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Customer Experience Equals Business Results

As 2010 quickly comes to a close, many marketers are still struggling with how to best connect with consumers in this challenging economy. Over the past year, they have realized that whatever approach they choose needs to be revamped to align with today's consumer – a consumer who is spending less.

During a recent speech at the Conference Board in New York, ING CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, discussed how his company has modified its strategy in order to keep up with the changing customer. They now focus on the customer experience. "Great customer service is everything," said Kuhlmann. "At the end of the day, it's not what we do, it's what we stand for."

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With this directive, Kuhlmann altered the company's vision. "We want to make savings 'cool' and in a lot of categories, savings is not cool." In order to overcome this hurdle, Kuhlmann realized the solution was within his marketing department; they needed to simplify the message for consumers.

They began making the message more straightforward in all of ING's call centers. "We don't have call centers outside the U.S. because customers don't like it. And the fact is – most people hate 800 numbers. I have never seen anyone who says 'I love an 800 number.' So we have a live person answer the phones."

By utilizing U.S.-based call centers and eliminating automated responses, companies like ING quickly see a large return on investment. Customers are satisfied, leading to increased brand loyalty. With happier customers, who are now spreading the word about their positive experiences, ING is seeing an increase in word of mouth referrals, which now generates more than 41 percent of ING Direct's customer base. As this example illustrates, at the end of the day -- customer experience equals business results.

We hope you enjoyed this month's Dialogue.

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