As a part of our new expert guest blogger series, Vicki Halsey of The Ken Blanchard Companies shares the PATH to retaining customers.

 

By Vicki Halsey | @LeaderChat

 

PATH to Customer Success - Vicki Halsey's TipsEven the most highly regarded names in customer service occasionally fall short of perfection—and most likely, your business will, too. A service provider may make a mistake (they are human, after all) or an event may occur that’s beyond your control. Unfavorable situations can arise that result in a customer feeling less than cared for. How can you ensure your customer will choose to return to your business after an unfortunate incident? How do you leave them with a positive impression after they’ve had a negative experience?

 

Increase the odds of keeping that customer by following this PATH:

 

P: Prepare for scenarios. Proactively discuss with your staff possible customer concerns as well as solutions they could offer. Give your frontline people permission to handle issues without having to ask a supervisor. Let them know specifically where the boundaries lie. The faster a frontline employee can make a customer’s problem go away, the faster the experience will become a positive instead of a negative memory.

 

Keep reading...

Taiga CompanyWe're pleased to announce our new expert guest blogger series! First up, Julie Urlaub, Managing Partner of the Taiga Company.

 

By Julie Urlaub | @TaigaCompany


Sometimes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is like playing telephone.

 

Witnessed from a high level, a company's CSR plan may embrace all the right frameworks, include the buzzwords, and authentically and credibly embrace sustainability initiatives. However, witnessed from the employee level, all that vision (and jargon!) may be lost. 

 

In addition to executive management playing a critical role in the success of a company, business sustainability requires leadership and communication across the entire organization.  While management may ultimately carry the responsibility of CSR results, employees have a part to play in the definition and implementation of these programs.

 

What are your employees saying about your organization?  Are they equipped with information and engaged in your company’s corporate social responsibility programs to passionately communicate the message you would like the world to hear? 

 

Does it even matter? 

 

Keep reading...

The following is a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen.  The article is adapted from a post that originally appeared on Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

On Friday morning, I had the pleasure of hearing Dan Kahan from Yale talk about cultural cognition at an event sponsored by Spitfire Communications and the Communications Network.  Cultural cognition, I know what you’re thinking.  But wait!  Don’t stop reading!  You need to read this post.  If you work in cause marketing in this polarized United States, this is vitally important.

 

Political scale.jpgCultural cognition is simply way of describing the very human habit of conforming to your group’s core beliefs when confronted with disputed matters of fact.  The guru on this topic is Dan Kahan, and he shows how our opinions about everything from climate change to gun control aren’t shaped by facts as much as our cultural identity - which we then bolster by cherry picking information that supports that collective sense of self.  This is why you could put the same set of data in front of people on opposite extremes of controversial issues, and they’d both come out of that experience only more entrenched in their positions.

 

I got introduced to these ideas by my friend and colleague Alia McKeewho wrote about cultural cognition here, and so I jumped at the chance to hear from Kahan himself.

 

Kahan describes the groups with which we align ourselves according to the following continua, which Alia describes this way:

 

Individualists, who think that society should mostly let each member do his or her own thing. At the other end of that spectrum are Communitarians, who think we all are in it together and society should operate more as a whole rather than a bunch of independent members.

 

Hierarchists, who prefer a society with well-identified class and authority structures and a firm and predictable status quo. At the other end of that spectrum are Egalitarians, who prefer a more open society with fewer pre-determined class and authority structures and a less rigid status quo.

 

Kahan tells us that these characteristics are better ways to predict people’s positions than the traditional demographics of political party, age and education. For example, communitarians and egalitarians show more concern about climate change because the solutions challenge the status quo and will require a joint response by society. Individualists and hierarchists are much more likely to be climate change skeptics, because they believe pro-environment policies lead to restricted commerce and markets, which they equate with human excellence. 

 

As Kahan explained, “This is motivated cognition.  Neither group is anti-science. They process information that matches their group. You can survey people in the same locale, and depending on their view, they will describe how hot (or not) the weather has been.  They feel temperature differently. People are all like pollsters engaged in biased sampling.” 

 

The reason this matters to you is that if we accept that cultural values trump facts (which I do), then your efforts to persuade with information and experts won’t work.  In fact, Kahan has showed people will only listen to experts who bolster their world view. 

 

Remember: People take their cue about what to think and do “based on the cheers and boos of the home team,” says Kahan.  So don’t be the opposition.  Here are three ways Kahan shares to step out of our polarized approach to issues.

 

1. Stop trying to convert people.  You can err to a much greater extent by being too confident and assertive than by being too cooperative.

 

2. Present information that confirms, not threatens, values.  Group ties motivate people.  Find a common value that unites everyone around an issue. It may be local pride or energy independence or safety.  Focus on the tribe to which we all belong and tie the issue to that frame.

 

3. Make sure a diverse set of experts speaks to the evidence. Picking partisan folks from the extreme sides of the cultural cognition spectrum won’t persuade people on the other side.  Values polarize.  Find messengers to whom your audience relates if you want them to listen.



Kahan concluded by urging organizations to try these approaches and share results. 

 

I agree.  On election day, I believe fervently that there has to be a better way to bring people together.  So let’s create a community of knowledge that does just that.  What can you draw from cultural cognition that unites people behind your cause campaign?  And how can the rest of us get on board with this constructive way to make change?

 

 

Image via: http://pinterest.com/pin/101260691592143721/

This is a guest post by Network for Good's COO & CSO Katya Andresen. A version of this post originally appeared on Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

Five tectonic technology shifts changing our world, our work and our potential is the name of a speech I gave a couple of weeks ago for the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program.  Here are the first three trends and their takeaways.

 

Chase community giving facebook page.jpg1. The messenger shift

 

The idea: Technology has enabled people’s most trusted sources - those they perceive to be their peers - to become the most influential and amplified messengers in their lives. We are no longer the messengers in chief of our corporate causes.

 

The takeaway: Your brand is not your most effective messenger, so use technology to amplify other voices.  You want at least three kinds of messengers:

 

- People on the front lines of your work (employees, consumers, clients) who can speak authentically about your corporate cause campaign
- Fans who will champion your work within their circles of influence
- People with credibility and authority who can attest to the quality of you and your work (ratings agencies, thought leaders who offer endorsement)

 

2. The social action shift

 

The idea: Technology has made it easy for people to take small, easy actions in support of a cause.  This has been dubbed slacktivism by some, which sounds dismissive.  But so-called slacktivists often have large circles of influence and are more likely to spread the word about your cause campaign and, down the road, support your company.

 

The takeaway:  Don’t write off slacktivists. 

 

- Enable and celebrate slacktivism through technology 
- Lower the bar for engagement especially on social media
- Use the social proof of those collective actions to get momentum behind your cause
- Build off the baby steps of slacktivists by cultivating them specifically and encouraging more action over time

 

3. The message shift

 

The idea: The wealth of information and insights we have about people online is driving an increasing expectation of personalization of our outreach - and participation in our messages and cause.  We want to speak to our supporters based on their interests - without crossing the spooky line.

 

The takeaway: One message for everyone isn’t enough.

 

- Mine your data
- Segment your supporters
- Relate your cause to their values
- Use technology to put the consumer at the center of your story

 

Stay tuned for the other 2 trends and takeaways! In the meantime, sign up for our tips on employee engagement and cause marketing.

 

 

 

Are Consumers Tickled Pink?

by Network for Good Specialist ‎10-24-2012 3:00 AM, EDT

 This is a guest post by Network for Good's COO & CSO Katya Andresen. A version of this post originally appeared on Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

pinktober-robe.jpgWith Breast Cancer Awareness month in full swing, I was interested to see a new survey from Cone Communications that shows just where consumers stand on the slew of pink-tinged marketing campaigns we see this time of year.

 

According to the Cone Communications Breast Cancer Trend Tracker, the “pink” halo effect still prompts consumer purchase and brand affinity. While the poll finds nearly all Americans (92%) believe breast cancer is a critical cause for corporations to support, they’ve got their doubts about pink products:

 

• Just 26 percent feel companies have had a significant positive impact on the issue
• Only half of consumers (52%) believe their individual breast cancer-related purchases make a difference
• Three-quarters (77%) think some companies support the breast cancer cause solely for corporate gain

 

Cone says, “Consumers want companies to support the cause in substantive ways. Although just 6 percent are content with corporate dollars going toward disease awareness and education, consumers would prefer to see contributions applied toward research for a cure (46%), screenings and prevention (26%) and support for women and families affected by breast cancer (22%).”

 

Perhaps this - along with the Susan G. Komen controversy of the past year - is why Cone has found companies are diversifying their nonprofit partners: “No longer do one or two large nonprofits rule the breast cancer space in October. As the breast cancer cause undergoes increased scrutiny, brands are turning to distinct partners for a unique approach and impact.” Some brands, like Avon and Novartis, are providing more than just dollars toward the cause – they are creating opportunities for people affected by breast cancer to connect to critical emotional support through online communities and social networking.

 

What’s the bottom line? Cause marketers paid heed: help consumers see beyond the pink to the substance of what you are doing for the cause.  Make clear which nonprofits you support, how and how much.  Put the faces of breast cancer - not your brand - at the center.  And detail your impact so people know that pink halo is more than just a stunt.

 

 

Image via http://singlemindedwomen.com/women-travel/women-rock-hard-rock-hotels-raise-awareness-for-breast-can...

The following is a continuation of a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen. You can read more of her writing via Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

More and more cause-related marketing campaigns are designed to let consumers actively choose which charities a company supports. We've learned 5 lessons from the series of studies by Stefanie Rosen Robinson, Caglar Irmak and Satish Jayachandran of North Carolina State published in the Journal of Marketing and covered by Cause Marketing Forum.  

 

5 Lessons: 

1) Consumer choice has a big positive impact on consumer donations.  

2) When the company chooses among charities, the fact there is more than one cause doesn’t matter much to the consumers.

3) Not all consumers are the same.  

4) If there’s a strong fit between company and cause, choice matters less.

5) If the social good goal is far off, choice matters less.

  

 

So what are the takeaways for a cause marketer?

 

Katya- Too many choices.jpg1) Consumers like to be in the driver’s seat with causes.  Offer them a choice in the charities you support – it’s more important than the company alone deciding among causes.

 

2) The best campaigns make consumers feel like they have a personal role in the cause.  In addition to letting them choose the cause, make them feel they are helping to make a difference and nearing a goal.  Don’t advertise progress toward a goal till you are reasonably close to the goal!

 

3) Consumers aren’t all alike, so keep in mind that choice in charity works best with community-minded “collectivists” when you are segmenting your target audiences.

 

4) Giving the consumer the choice is less important when there’s a very tight fit between the company and the cause – so plan accordingly.

 

5) Don’t go too crazy with many choices.  While the research didn’t test when there are diminishing returns in the number of charity options, research author Stefanie Robinson suggests keeping to five or less.  More than that can be overwhelming.

 

6) As always, test for yourself.  These are guiding principles, but not prescriptive.  Happy researching!

 

 

 

 

 

Want our weekly tips on cause marketing and employee engagement? Sign up!

 

The following is a continuation of a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen. You can read more of her writing via Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

More and more cause-related marketing campaigns are designed to let consumers actively choose which charities a company supports.  So does choice in charity make campaigns more effective?  Do consumers like being in the social good driver’s seat?  And when can consumer choice hurt or help a company?

 

A new series of studies by Stefanie Rosen Robinson, Caglar Irmak and Satish Jayachandran of North Carolina State tackles those very questions.  And the findings, just published in the Journal of Marketing and covered by Cause Marketing Forum, include some interesting answers:

 

3) Not all consumers are the same. 

Another study covered in the paper found that some people are more collectivist, especially in Asian cultures, while others are more individualistic.  Collectivist people tend to put community needs above personal ones.  While you might think individualistic people are more inclined to like choice in charity, that wasn’t true in the research.  The most individualistic people don’t care as much about choice in giving.  Collectivists definitely do, though, because the choice makes them feel they have a greater role in helping and that involvement fulfills their caring about community.  Choice in charity is therefore more likely to influence their purchase decisions positively.  

 

Katya Toms.jpg4) If there’s a strong fit between company and cause, choice matters less.

In a lab study, university students were told about a notebook for sale that benefitted charity.  In this study, several variables were studied: consumer vs. company choosing among four charities – as well as a set of charities with a close fit to the product (four educational causes) vs. less of a fit (four environmental causes).  The researchers looked at how the variables influenced people’s intent to purchase the notebook.  Interestingly, when there was a strong fit between the company and cause, the consumer being able to choose the charities mattered less.  The students said they were less likely to purchase when it was up to them to choose than when the decision was left to the company.  Apparently, when there wasn’t a strong fit, study participants felt the company had a weaker CSR strategy and therefore wanted to influence the charity chosen.

 

5) If the social good goal is far off, choice matters less.

In most of the fundraising research I have reviewed, it’s clear that donors are more motivated to give when a campaign is close to its goal – and discouraged from giving if the goal seems far off or not achievable.  Turns out the same may be true with cause-marketing campaigns.  Consumers who were told that a campaign was only 20% to its goal were less likely to make a purchase when asked to decide which charity should be the beneficiary.  When they were told a campaign was 80% to its goal and they could choose the charity, they were more likely to purchase because they felt their behavior would have an important effect on the campaign.

 

Stay tuned for the takeaways for cause marketers!

 

 

Image credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/10696117835191300/

 

 

 

 

Want our weekly tips on cause marketing and employee engagement? Sign up!

 

 

The following is a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen. You can read more of her writing via Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

More and more cause-related marketing campaigns are designed to let consumers actively choose which charities a company supports.  So does choice in charity make campaigns more effective?  Do consumers like being in the social good driver’s seat?  And when can consumer choice hurt or help a company?

 

A new series of studies by Stefanie Rosen Robinson, Caglar Irmak and Satish Jayachandran of North Carolina State tackles those very questions.  And the findings, just published in the Journal of Marketing and covered by Cause Marketing Forum, include some interesting answers:

 

Kayta candy choice.jpg1) Consumer choice has a big positive impact on consumer donations. 

In a field experiment that took place at a roller rink, popular sour chews were sold and adults were asked to pay whatever price they wished for the candy.  Half were told the skating rink was contributing proceeds of the candy money to a set of causes, with the rink deciding how much money would go where.  The other half were told they could choose which charity benefited from their purchase.  The four causes were chosen based on earlier research showing what types of organizations the parents would be inclined to care about moderately.  On average parents (and they were all parents – their kids were there skating) paid far more for the candy -- $2.17 -- when they were able to choose from four causes.  They paid an average of only $0.72 when the roller rink determined how the money would be divvied up.

 

2) When the company chooses among charities, the fact there is more than one cause doesn’t matter much to the consumer.

In a lab study, university students were asked to choose if they were more inclined to buy a calculator from a company that “is giving a percentage of the proceeds from the sales of the calculator back to the community.” Participants got three versions of how that worked – that they got to choose from among four charities benefiting, that the company chose among four charities benefiting, or that the company supported just one charity.  In all cases 5% of the sales were donated.  Interestingly, people were more likely to buy the calculator when they got to choose the charity.  The interest level in buying the product when the company chose among charities or supported one charity was negligible.  In an interview with Cause Marketing Forum, study author Stefanie Robinson said this was her most surprising finding.  Whether a company donates to many charities vs. one charity may not matter.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for the three other answers and cause marketing takeaways!

 

 

 

 

Want our weekly tips on cause marketing and employee engagement? Sign up!

 

 

Image credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/34058540902419048/

The following is a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen.  You can read more of her writing via Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

In previous posts, I outlined the four conclusions from the paper "Doing Well by Doing Good: The Benevolent Halo of Social Goodwill" by researchers Alexander Chernev and Sean Blair of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In short, they are:

 

Surprising ways CSR can drive perceptions of your products:

 

All about me.jpg1) To consumers, good company = good product

 

2) Consumer mindset dictates when "good" matters

 

3) A socially responsible company trumps socially responsible product

 

4) Consumers smell self-interest a mile away

 

So what are your takeaways?

 

1) Be a socially responsible company.  In addition to improving our world, you will get a brand halo.  And if you position your work well, people will perceive your products as superior.

 

2) Consider focusing on your firm’s work to advance social good, not necessarily how each product is a reflection of those policies.  The first approach makes people feel better about your products – and more willing to buy them because they are considered high quality.  The second approach may backfire with some consumers.  True, there is a small set of consumers focused on a product’s CSR merits – but a far bigger set care are swayed by the overall company’s behavior. 

 

3) In calling attention to your CSR work, choose your positioning and messengers carefully so they don’t smack of self-serving self-interest.

 

4) Test for yourself.  Like all research, these studies should be considered guiding, not prescriptive.  Consumers are notoriously poor predictors of their own behaviors, and they are not all alike.  So it’s always wise to do some testing with your own audience.

 

 

 

 

Image via http://tomfishburne.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/101101.antisocial.jpg

The following is a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen.  You can read more of her writing via Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

 

(This is a continuation of the post The 4 surprising ways CSR can drive perceptions of your products.)

 

When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its effect on consumers, a few things are clear and supported by research.  First, CSR can create a brand halo for a company.  It makes consumers more likely to view the company as likeable and trustworthy.  It might inspire brand loyalty.  And if price and quality are considered comparable, a consumer might be more likely to choose a socially responsible company’s product over the competition.

 

But how does a company’s social responsibility affect how consumers actually view its products?  Do consumers think the products are better if the company is invested in good causes? This has been a question with frustratingly few answers over the years. Some past research has suggested that the more active a company is in social responsibility, the more consumers might question product performance.  For example: is that chemical-free counter cleaner from that tree-hugging corporation really going to work?  Consumers may think not.

 

So it’s exciting that a new set of studies from Alexander Chernev and Sean Blair of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University tackle the specific issue of how CSR influences the way products are perceived.  Their paper, “Doing Well by Doing Good: The Benevolent Halo of Social Goodwill” describes several studies that led to four conclusions by the researchers.

 

3) A socially responsible company trumps socially responsible product

 

Here’s the most surprising finding: a socially responsible company may drive more business than a socially responsible product.  People feel better about a product that is created by a company that donates to green causes than a company that created a product with environmentally friendly technology.  The researchers tested sunscreen, bug spray, laundry detergent and air conditioner refrigerant that had attributes such as being chemical-free and tested that against a company that made one of those products and donated 10% of sales to charity.  What was interesting was consumers tended to favor the latter – maybe because they worried “social good” meant a less effective product.  When “social good” was decoupled from the product and assigned to the company as a whole, people felt the best about the product.  They believed it was higher performance.

 

Within reason.jpg4) Consumers smell self-interest a mile away

 

People like companies that do social good, but that warm feeling can be attenuated when they sense crass corporate self-interest behind those good works.  For me, this finding echoes the truth equation from Charles Green, which says trust is the sum of credibility, reliability and security DIVIDED by the self-orientation of the company (or person).  Self orientation is self interest and refers to how much an organization is perceived as focusing on itself vs. others.  The more a company seems focused on its own needs, the bigger the denominator in the trust equation and the lower the level of trust.  This seems to hold true in CSR too.  A study with a pretend company named eco-Inks showed that its self-interested advertising about the product’s petroleum-free attribute was far less effective than putting that messaging in its CSR outreach – or having a nonprofit speak to the merits of the company.

 

 

What are the 4 takeaways? We'll reveal them tomorrow!

 

 

Image via: http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/214


   

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Companies for Good shares insights on cause marketing and corporate social responsibility topics to inform your charitable engagement with consumers and employees. Network for Good empowers corporate partners to unleash generosity and advance good causes. The blog celebrates that work and provides expertise and resources to help you do well and do good. Learn more

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