Thursday, March 26, 2015

Customer Experience Survival Guide

Sprinklr ebook cover
Feeling like you need some guidance with your CX Journey? Not sure where to turn?

I'm excited to share details about a new ebook for which I wrote a chapter. The book was compiled by Sprinklr, and it's aptly titled, The Survival Guide to Customer Experience.

It doesn’t matter what your ads say. In today’s world, the only thing that customers care about is the experience. Customers want a consistent brand experience each time they interact with your brand – and they want it across all channels.

But how exactly do you pull this off? Through successful customer experience management.

This ebook brings together 20 CX thought leaders (including Barry Dalton, Stan Phelps, Gregory Yankelovich, Steve Curtin, Roy Atkinson, Jeanne Bliss, Ian Golding, and more), who write about how to create a sustainable customer experience management initiative.

The book has four sections:
  1. The New Customer-Brand Relationship
  2. The Need for a Holistic View of the Customer
  3. Why Social Media Shouldn't be a Separate Department
  4. What Good CXM Looks Like
In my chapter, which is part of Section 2, I write about a phrase that I've been throwing around a lot lately: "You can't transform what you don't understand."

There is so much great advice in this book. Be sure to download it.

The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing. -John Russell

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Employee Journey to a Better Customer Experience

How does ensuring your employees have a great experience translate into better service for your customers?

Last week, I had the pleasure of co-presenting on a webinar with Kyle Antcliff of Intradiem. We talked about...
  • The link between employee experience and customer experience
  • The importance of treating agents like relationship managers (not assembly line workers)
  • The difference between employer brand and customer brand
  • Three critical stages of the employee journey
  • How to identify “moments of truth” in employee engagement
  • How real-time insights into your customer service operations can strengthen the employee journey
During my presentation, I spent a little time defining some key terms and then dove into the business benefits of a great employee experience. The conversation then shifted to how to design a better employee experience, starting with mapping employee journeys in order to understand what employees go through as they try to complete some task or do their jobs.

To view the webinar, visit Intradiem's webinar page.

You don't build a business  - you build people. And then people build the business. -Zig Ziglar

Thursday, March 19, 2015

CMO Brain Interview: All Things Customer Experience

Image courtesy of Unsplash
What is customer experience? And how do we improve it?

Andrew Mounier of CMO Brain recently asked to interview me so he could pick my brain about customer experience, and I happily accepted. Any time someone wants to talk about customer experience - any opportunity to continue to spread the word about its importance - I'm up for it!

We talked via Skype, and you can view the interview on his site. Despite a cold and congestion (pardon the sniffles throughout!), it was a great chat.

 Andrew posed some great questions:
  • What is customer experience?
  • What are some of the first things that an organization can do to start mapping the customer journey?
  • What are some of the tools that people can use to understand their customers better? 
  • How does Touchpoint Dashboard actually help in the mapping process and what does it do?
  • Why should an organization map the customer journey?
  • If there was one piece of advice that you could give to the CMO Brain community, what would that be?
To hear the answers to these questions - and more - check out the interview on Andrew's CMO Brain website. Let me know your thoughts...

And I dare you to ask Andrew to say "Touchpoint Dashboard" three times really fast!

When you’re trying to make an important decision, and you’re sort of divided on the issue, ask yourself: If the customer were here, what would she say? -Dharmesh Shah

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Not About the Metric

I originally wrote today's post for Confirmit in November 2014. I've made some modifications.

In November 2014, I participated in the Hooked On Customers Summit, a webinar series hosted by Bob Thompson of CustomerThink. I joined Bob, along with Jeanne Bliss, in the first webinar to discuss Creating Actionable Insight from a Customer Listening Engine. Jeanne talked about the role of the Chief Customer Officer, while I ran through my Six Steps to Turn VoC into Action.

One of the questions posed by Bob during the webinar was: “How can managers avoid the metric becoming a goal rather than an indicator?” This is a great question and one that needs to be addressed early and often in any customer experience management effort. All too often, we see companies chasing the metric, whichever one they choose, and trying to figure out how to move the number rather than appreciating it for what it is – a number. A number that gives you a moment in time read on how you’re performing – and that’s it. It doesn’t tell you what you’ve done right or wrong, and it doesn’t tell you how to move the number.

Anaheim Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was quoted as saying: I don’t get caught up in numbers. I think when you start doing that, you start disrespecting the game. You start forgetting what your main focus is, and that’s winning and helping your ball club to win.

Amen to that! When we get caught up in the metric, when we place our focus solely on the metric, we lose sight of what it is that we’re really trying to do: improve the customer experience. When we focus on the metric, we try to tinker with things here and there just to see what moves the needle and don’t think about the big picture.

Sure, the metric can help to rally the troops – but that’s only if it’s presented in the right context. It’s not the right context if you…
  • mention the score without even talking about the customer and the customer experience
  • game surveys just to get a score
  • threaten disciplinary actions or lost compensation if an employee doesn’t achieve a score
How, then, do we avoid the metric being the goal rather than an indicator? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Talk about customers – and what your customers are saying
  • Make the metric the last thing you talk about – or don’t talk about it at all
  • Share what’s important to customers
  • Tell stories about customer successes and customer experiences
  • Focus on behaviors and what it takes to improve the experience
  • Share customer feedback and verbatims
  • Act on the feedback
  • Coach and praise based on feedback and the experience the customer had
  • Focus on business outcomes
  • Ensure that employees have a clear line of sight to the customer
  • And give them a clear understanding of how they contribute to the customer experience
Don’t measure for the sake of measuring, and don’t listen just for the sake of measuring. Listen because you want to understand the customer and where the experience is falling down (or standing up). And then act on what you hear. Don’t just focus on improving the score; improve the experience, and the numbers will follow.

I think Simon Sinek said it best when he said: Focus on the vision and the numbers will thrive. Focus on the numbers and the vision will struggle (and so will the numbers).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Engagement and Culture are Related, But Different

Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by George Jacob of PeopleMetrics.

As companies focus inward to understand how to achieve their customer experience goals, the term “engagement” is often used interchangeably with “culture.” It’s understandable. The two terms are related, and they’re both elements of customer experience improvement. But it’s important to make a distinction between the two terms, because they differ in the ways they’re measured, improved, and capitalized on.

Employee Engagement: The “I” Point of View
Employee engagement is the functional and emotional connection that employees have with an organization. It’s often measured using a short set of questions that get at behavioral intention. So using a Likert scale, questions might include:
  • “I recommend this company as a good place to work.” (Advocacy),
  • “It would take a lot to get me to leave this company.” (Retention), or
  • “I am motivated by this company to give extra effort in my work” (Discretionary
  • Effort)
At PeopleMetrics, we measure engagement using a similar set of outcome questions, but our model also prioritizes the eight emotional and functional drivers that impact the level of engagement of a company’s workforce.

When we administer engagement surveys, we focus on the personal experience of employees as they perform their roles, and their perceptions of how they feel and what they get in return for their efforts. That means employees answer questions from the “I” perspective. (“Do I feel purpose? Do I have room to grow? Do I feel rewarded?”) When analyzed in aggregate, the responses say quite a bit about whether or not the workforce feels supported, well directed, and motivated to stay and give extra effort.

Organizational Culture: The “We” Point of View
We like Herb Kelleher’s (former CEO of Southwest Airlines) definition of organizational culture: “Culture is what people do when no one is looking.” We’ve developed a diagnostic instrument to help companies measure their culture based on that premise—to put numbers around the types of things people do when no one is looking, and in particular, the types of things that support customer-centricity. We craft our surveys to explore the perceptions that employees have inside their organizations. Employees respond to these prompts from the “we” perspective, and our proven model measures culture along five organizational dimensions. Prompts might include:
  • “We know who is responsible for the customer.” (Management),
  • “We share stories about customers.” (Storytelling), or
  • “We hire people who care about the customer.” (Hiring)
The responses tell you how the workforce perceives the internal mechanisms of the

Engagement, Culture, and Customer Focus: Three Amigos
Put another way, to drive employee engagement, you need to concentrate on helping employees feel motivated in performing their work. To drive cultural improvements, you’ll need to look at the behaviors, language, norms, and expectations inside your company walls.

Engagement and culture are different, but they affect each other. Engaged employees impact culture, and a strong culture can lead to engaged employees. (Alternatively, disengaged employees can suffocate culture, and caustic cultures can chase away engaged employees.)

We examined employee engagement in one of our annual independent research studies. Engaged employees are more productive, more loyal, more likely to advocate on behalf of their employers, and - perhaps for those of us in the CX world, most importantly - more focused on doing right by the customer.

The research also revealed that employees working in customer-centric cultures are more engaged than those working in company-centric cultures - regardless of industry.

That means companies that make customer happiness a priority - companies that align their internal systems, processes, and other cultural elements to that goal - will likely earn greater employee engagement. And so the cycle will continue. (Which is something we get excited about.)

“Yeah, I help our company make customers happy.”
It’s important to distinguish between culture and engagement. They involve different perspectives and different strategies for improvement. The difference between “culture” and “engagement” is the difference between “we” and “I.”

But both areas are essential for the customer experience professional and for organizational leadership. (Particularly their alignment.) By managing a customer-centric culture that supports engaged employees, you can transform your organization into one that truly puts customers at its heart.

And when customers are in your heart, you are more than likely in theirs.

George Jacob is the Inbound Content Architect at PeopleMetrics, where he works to share
insights and understanding about customer experience and customer-centric culture. You can
read more of his work on - and subscribe to - the PeopleMetrics blog.

Image Credits:
I am the entertainer...” by Matthias Ripp, CC BY 2.0
Office Meeting Outside” by Office Now, CC BY 2.0
Military Maneuvers” by JD Hancock, CC BY 2.0