Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Data for the Sake of Data? Never!

Image courtesy of Pixabay
"Data is just data until you do something with it," right?

That statement has plagued companies for a long time and for a variety of reasons - not the least of which is that they just don’t know what to do with the data: how to analyze it, how to use the outputs, what the outputs mean, etc.

Today, on a webinar with Logi Analytics, I am sharing tips on moving beyond data for the sake of data (and dashboards for the sake of dashboards).

In this webinar, I share the five steps you must take in order to drive action with the vast quantities of data available today - for the developers and the analysts who build dashboards and reports that customer experience professionals use to understand the customer and her experience in order to design and deliver a better experience.

While I go through the first four steps with some level of detail, I spend a lot of time on Step 5 (Socialize), outlining for listeners exactly how customer experience professionals need to see the data visualized and how we consume the data in order to use it to design a better customer experience.

Some of the critical things for us are:
  • getting the right data to the right people at the right time
  • a 360-degree view of the customer
  • company performance against customer needs and expectations along the customer journey
  • predictive and prescriptive outputs that tell us exactly what to do to achieve desired outcomes
  • linkages to other data, financials, and more
  • ROI, and 
  • what-if analyses that tell us the impact on the outcome of making some change
There are many more requirements that I outline for actionable reports and dashboards that can help CX professionals drive real change. Have a listen. And let me know what you think!

If you miss the webinar today, you'll still be able to access it on demand via the same link.

Design cannot rescue failed content. -Edward Tufte

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Not My Job" Syndrome

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Does your company suffer from the "not my job (NMJ) syndrome?"

When was the last time you heard someone being asked to do some task that wasn't outlined in their job description, only to respond with, "That's not my job?"

Recently?

Yup. I believe it. It's an all-too-frequent occurrence that employees draw the line in the sand or draw a box around themselves, refuse to do some task, and say, "Not my job." They take longer to explain why it's not their job and what their job is than to actually do what was asked of them. That's a problem!

What causes this knee-jerk reaction? (Or maybe it's not really knee-jerk?)

I can think of a few things.
  • Silos. When those "non-physical barriers" are established in your company, it's easy for employees to feel like they don't need to help out. It's easy for them to say that the task belongs to another department, one for which they are not accountable. 
  • Leadership. Sadly, this silo mentality (and it is a mentality; again, there are no physical barriers from one department or business unit to another) is created by leaders within the organization, advocating that we only do what we need to do to ensure our unit is successful. There's this notion that what you do doesn't impact me or my work, and what I do doesn't impact you or the customer in any way; the department or business unit simply operates in its own box.
  • Core values. When core values aren't defined or clearly communicated, employees don't know what behaviors are expected of them. When everyone knows the values, it's tougher to claim the "not my job" excuse.
  • Communication. When roles and expectations are not clearly communicated, problems ensue, without a doubt! When employees understand the work that other departments or business units are doing and how that fits into the bigger picture, into the purpose, it's easy to get on board to help when help is needed
  • Purpose. Without knowing the company's purpose and the common goal toward which everyone is working, employees don't have a sense of urgency to pitch in for the greater success.
Here are a few options to help overcome the NMJ Syndrome.
  • Job descriptions. Put less emphasis on specific tasks and make them more about outcomes, not only for the individual but also for the company.
  • Core values. Make sure they are defined, communicated, and lived every day.
  • Communication. Be open and candid about values, guiding principles, purpose, and expectations.
  • Performance reviews. Include core values as part of the performance review. One of the metrics you might include is around servant leadership. 
  • Journey mapping. Really? Yup. Use the maps to help employees see where and how, working together, they all impact the customer experience. 
  • Model the behavior. If leaders do it, employees will, too.
  • Collaboration. Encourage situations where departments or business units work together toward a common end goal. Get cross-functional teams involved when there are issues or projects.
  • Appreciation. People who are recognized and appreciated are more apt to want to do more. It's self-perpetuating.
What am I missing? What else would you add?

I'll end with this fun story about whose job it is, in case you haven't heard this one yet.

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Avoiding Change Fatigue

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Are your employees suffering from change fatigue?

Not familiar with the term "change fatigue?" I suppose that's probably a good thing!

Maybe it's happening, but you're just not aware of it?

What is change fatigure?

According to Wikipedia:

Organizational change fatigue is a general sense of apathy or passive resignation towards organizational changes by individuals or teams. Organizational change efforts are all too often unfocused, uninspired, and unsuccessful. Research shows, 70 percent of transformation efforts fail, often caused by change fatigue.

Customer experience management is all about change management; that also means that it's all about change. At least that's what your customers are hoping for.

You've listened to customers. You've mapped their journeys. And you've found a lot of improvements to be made. The problem is, these improvements need to be added to a master list of projects and initiatives underway at the company, initiatives to improve the employee experience, the customer experience, your processes, your policies, your benefits, the workplace, your accreditations, your award standings, and whatever else change initiatives you've got underway.

There's no shortage, and not every change initiative impacts everyone in the company. But everyone knows about them. They hear about them. And they know that many of the initiatives are either a waste of time or will just simply fail. Why? Been there, done that.

Where does change fatigue come into the picture? Well, with the "been there, done that" experience and attitude, for starters. Especially when change initiatives constantly fail, there's this sense that each initiative is a "flavor of the month."

Why does change fatigue happen? For a variety of reasons.
  • There's a non-stop flow of change initiatives.
  • Many of them are flavors of the month or reactionary, with no thought given to long-term strategy and goals.
  • Each one requires employees to do more work - work they view as superfluous - on top of their already hectic workloads.
  • Many initiatives don't have clear owners, objectives, or outcomes.
  • Or the importance, purpose, and outcomes are not clearly communicated to the team or to all employees.
  • But, the change is all you talk about.
How do you know change fatigue has set in?
  • Employees are skeptical when any new initiative is introduced.
  • They no longer volunteer to help, participate, or be part of a change project team.
  • They view that as a waste of time.
  • Employees watch from the side lines, snickering that this is just another flavor of the month.
  • For those who chose to participate, they lose interest and no longer pay attention or actively engage in their piece of the work.
  • They've lost sight of the end game, the outcomes, the reason for the change.
  • Executives start to shift budget and resources to other initiatives.
  • Employees leave the company; too much change creates havoc and uncertainty.
How can you mitigate the fatigue?
  • Talk about it, just not all the time. Be transparent. Convey important information. And then let the work get done.
  • Celebrate successes along the way so that people know that real change is happening and having a positive impact.
  • Revisit objectives and desired outcomes to make sure everything is still on track. 
  • Remind those involved about the end game and its benefits.
  • Chunk up the change into major milestones. Work toward the milestones and then celebrate reaching each one.
  • Swap out the teams. Bring in new people, if needed.
  • Offer incentives for staying with the plan. Nothing perks up a tired team than money or some other incentive.
  • Listen to customers again. Map customer journeys. Remind everyone why change is happening and who it impacts. Tell the story.
There are more things you can do, for sure. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. But, as customer experience professionals, we know that our work is not done until change has happened. So we need to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Help keep teams energized and remind them of why they're doing what they're doing. And celebrate the quick wins and the big milestones along the way.

And it doesn't hurt to have a CEO cheerleader.

We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. -Konstantin Jireček


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Online Communities: Help Your Customers Help Each Other

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for CallidusCloud CX; it appeared on their blog on May 23, 2017.

In this very social world, customers have a lot of options when it comes to getting support from companies about the products and services they buy: there's phone, email, FAQs, knowledge bases, forums, chat, social media, and much more. Because expectations (including the need for speed and the need for more effortless service) have changed, many customers prefer a self-service route, seeking help through social media and online communities/forums, among other channels or options facilitated by others who have used the company's products and services.

Online communities have become a popular alternative lately. They're much more prevalent now than ever before, and customers are turning to other customers for assistance with common and not-so-common issues. There are both what I'll call "sanctioned" and "non-sanctioned" online communities, where the former is created, moderated, and owned by the brand, and the latter is stood up by fans of the brand or others who are simply willing to help their fellow customer. I'll focus on the sanctioned type.

Online communities that are created by companies have a lot of benefits for customers, including allowing them...
  • to build relationships with other customers and, potentially/ultimately, with the brand
  • greater convenience, i.e., they can get help on their schedule or on their time; sometimes issues happen at midnight, and not all customer service call centers are staffed at that hour
  • to get the help they need, oftentimes bypassing a lot of the most-basic questions that a support agent may ask, thus getting to the root of the matter - and to the solution - much quicker
  • to help others, which is often a motivating factor; this allows customers to build their own personal brands via these communities
  • to share feedback with the company and other customers about the product, the service, and the company, with hopes that their voices will be heard and improvements will be made
  • to talk about their experiences with the product, the service, and the company, again, to be heard and to drive change or improvements
Companies with online communities have reported higher customer satisfaction rates, improved retention, reduced call volumes, and more-efficient support systems. Doing the math on that means that communities not only benefit customers but companies, as well.

Companies get...
  • relationships, i.e., online communities encourage and facilitate customer relationships
  • raving fans who want to help other customers; in the end, this is one of the characteristics of raving fans, i.e., wanting to help the brand, work for the brand, and see the brand succeed
  • feedback about their products; when the community text is mined and analyzed, rich insights can and will be uncovered
  • feedback about other parts of the customer experience; we know that people don't often stick to the topic at hand, and when offered a forum to communicate, they take advantage of it
  • to listen to customers and learn about the overall support experience; they can use what they hear from the community to redesign the phone and email support experience
But these communities don't become successful just by setting them up and having people ask and participate. There must be a concerted effort to ensure this doesn't become an avenue where customers can be disappointed.

For communities to be successful, brands need to be sure to...
  • design the community experience, i.e., design it to be effortless or to require much less effort and more flexibility than phone and email
  • seed help/knowledgebase links and other support content throughout the community forum to address the most-commonly asked questions
  • keep all such content fresh and relevant
  • seed questions to get the community going
  • categorize questions and topics to make the UI, search, and interactions simple
  • encourage and let customers help each other, but...
  • make sure questions don't go unanswered
  • assign and rotate subject matter experts to the forums; these experts will offer assistance, when and as needed
  • encourage participation from influencers and other forum participants, even going so far as to award them with points toward some reward for their involvement
  • reinforce good behavior and professional conversations; nothing makes an online community go south faster than when the profanity and arguments start rolling
  • not just help customers but listen to them, as well
  • make it a great experience for your customers
Companies can reap real financial benefits - in terms of cost savings, process improvements, reduced call volume, and customer retention - if these online communities are managed correctly.

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. -J.K. Rowling

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CX Journey™ Musings: Culture - The Soul of the Organization

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In business, your culture is the soul of the organization.

The soul is the essence or the moral force of a person, their emotional or intellectual energy. It's the the part of you that consists of your mind, character, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.

Translate that to your company, and it becomes a good proxy definition for culture. The culture embodies the soul of the organization. As I mentioned in a previous post, we know that Culture = Values + Behavior. Core values are the fundamental beliefs of an organization. Further clarified, they become guiding principles, which dictate behaviors and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. 

“The only thing we have is one another. The only competitive advantage we have is the culture and values of the company. Anyone can open up a coffee store. We have no technology. We have no patent. All we have is the relationship around the values of the company and what we bring to the customer every day. And we all have to own it.” -Howard Schultz

But what happens when your executives' and your employees' behaviors don't align with your values? Bad things. Here are some examples, taking us back to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
  • Take a look at Enron. Enron's core values were: integrity, communication, respect, and excellence. But their leaders destroyed the company and went to jail for fraud.
  • I've searched for MCI-WorldCom's values, but the company is gone, and so are any traces of their core values. 
  • I couldn't find Lehman Brothers' values either, but I found plenty of articles talking about their toxic culture. And I did find an article stating that executives and employees were rewarded for taking risks - at all costs. That led to fudging the books, as well. So, integrity and ethical behaviors went out the window.
  • If you take a look at Goldman Sach's principles and standards, you'll see the first one states that they do everything in the best interest of their customers - and the last one on the page is all about honesty and integrity. And yet, they admitted to defrauding investors in 2008.
  • Merrill Lynch's principles, which were replaced by Bank of America's core values when they acquired Merrill Lynch, were all about teamwork, client focus, integrity, and more. Merrill Lynch was headed in the same direction as Lehman Brothers because it carried a lot of the same toxic debt/assets.
Do you have any more-recent examples? Maybe not a total fail but some bad outcomes of not living your core values? Perhaps Uber? Others with similar issues/stories?

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. -Roy Disney

What's my point? 

It's not to belabor the mistakes of those who failed - and failed badly.

The point is this: values are meaningless unless they inspire and drive the behavior that you expect your employees and executives (they're not exempt!) to display. In other words, your core values mean nothing if everyone in the company doesn't live them.

Is there a reason that employees aren't living them? Are the values regularly-communicated, not just posters on a wall? Is it time to revisit them? Once values are defined, they must be communicated regularly, and they must be reinforced. They can - and should - be updated as the business evolves or changes.

If you don't know your company's values, if they aren't a driving force behind your culture - or if you believe they aren't the soul of your organization - it's time to dust them off and put them in the spotlight where they belong. Don't have any core values? Make sure everyone understands why they are critical to the organization, to the employee experience, to the customer experience, to your culture - and then make the time to get the important task of developing them on the docket right away.

It's the job of any business owner to be clear about the company's nonnegotiable core values. They're the riverbanks that help guide us as we refine and improve on performance and excellence. A lack of riverbanks creates estuaries and cloudy waters that are confusing to navigate. I want a crystal-clear, swiftly-flowing stream. -Danny Meyer