Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Developing Your #CustomerExperience Strategy

Image courtesy of SaleMove
How do you develop a customer experience strategy and roadmap?

That was one of many questions I was asked during my recent interview with Dan Michaeli, co-founder and CEO of SaleMove and host of the podcast, The CX Show.

I enjoyed my conversation with Dan. We covered a range of topics, and it was the first time I was interviewed about the five-phase approach I take with clients when developing a customer experience strategy and roadmap. Intermingled with the discussion about my detailed approach were other related/relevant topics, including:
  • the evolution of customer experience over the last 25 years
  • the evolution from market research to voice of the customer - and technology's role in helping to bring about the shift, allowing for immediate access to customer feedback and behaviors
  • the importance of connecting employee experience and customer experience - and when to focus on each one
  • the convergence of employee experience and customer experience - what that means for the business and for the customer and the customer experience
  • the customer experience transformation - it's a 2-4 year journey, until it becomes the new normal, the new way of doing business
  • technology needs as part of the customer experience strategy
  • the future of customer experience, and
  • some book recommendations to help you along your customer experience journey

To hear the full podcast, follow this link. I hope you enjoy it! And, as always, if you have any questions or if I can help in any way, let me know in the comments below or by contacting me.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. -Ernest Hemingway


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Imagine That You're a Human...

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Now there's a crazy statement to make during a customer experience design session...

"Imagine for a second that you're a human... "

Yikes!

Unfortunately, more companies need to start thinking this way!

Sadly, there is no shortage of stories about customers being treated badly, even inhumanely. The one that always - instantly - comes to mind is the one of the  poor doctor who got dragged off that United flight just a year ago. If there's ever a "Would You Do That to Your Mother?" moment, that is certainly it.

How does something like that even happen?

What’s crazy to me is that we are all humans! (At least, most days I think we are!) And we are all customers! So what happens when we walk into the doors of our employers’ offices? What happens when we cross that threshold from not yet clocked in to on the clock? Do we forget that we're all humans? Do we forget that we’re customers, too? Do we get dragged down by the corporate culture we work in day in and day out? Does that culture suck the empathetic life out of us? How can we treat each other so poorly?! There's really no excuse that ever makes it OK to not deliver a great customer experience to the customer in front of you.

Need help putting the human lens back onto your customers? Try doing these three things...
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
  2. Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services.
  3. Empathize. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization.  Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.
And it's not just how customers are treated. Think about employees, too. Richard Branson says: Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. So yes, when you don't take care of employees and ensure that they have a great experience, bad things can happen to your customers and to your business. Empathy for customers begins with empathy for employees!

How can you put the human lens back on employees? Use those same three steps. And remember that a great experience isn't about free beer and ping pong tables. It's about truly caring for your employees. Treating them like family. Making sure they have a career path, know their growth and development options/opportunities, receive feedback and coaching, feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work, understand the impact they make on the business, know that their work matters, and feel valued, trusted, respected, and cared for.

All of that stems from a culture that values and respects people (employees and customers) as humans - and a leadership team that, in Bob Chapman's words, views employees not as cogs in their wheels to success but measures success by how they touch people's lives.

I'll leave you with an Acura commercial that I just saw recently. The tagline is: When you don't think of them as dummies, something amazing happens. It gives me chills every time I watch it.


So, as you're designing processes, developing and testing products, writing an email, or answering the phone, think for a second. Take a moment (or two or three) to consider the human on the other end, the human who's going to use the product, receive the email, or rely on you to solve their problems. Then put yourself in their shoes. Don't think of them as dummies - think of them as fellow human beings who deserve better. Ensure their best interests are at heart - with every interaction.

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another. -Alfred Adler


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Is Your Company People-Centric or Profit-Centric?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Rather than thinking customer-centric, how about thinking people-centric?

While customer experience strategies must include a priority focus on the employee experience (i.e., they are first!), they often don’t. Many companies actually  believe that they can improve the customer experience without improving the employee experience.

I’ve heard that said many times over the last 25 years. It doesn't get any easier to hear over time. And the thinking is just as erroneous now as it was back then.

If you want to move beyond cosmetic changes and lip service to real changes in the customer experience, you must first look at the employee experience. In order to improve both, you must first look to company culture and leadership.

At the root of what both employees and customers experience with a company is its culture; and that culture must be one designed to focus on both of their needs – and put them and their needs before profits or shareholder value. Does your company have a people-centric culture, or is it profit-centric and profit-driven? Yes, companies must make money, but there’s a better way to do it that benefits all constituencies involved.

How do you design a people-centric culture?

I'm so glad you asked!

If you missed me talk about how to do just that in last week's webinar with CallidusCloud, you can still listen and view it on demand. In this webinar, I take the audience through the typical culture pyramid and then contrast that with what a people-focused culture looks like - and how to get there. Trust me. It's a very different culture pyramid from the typical organization's culture.

Be sure to watch the webinar, Be a CX Winner by Focusing on Culture and Employee Experience. Let's shift the way that everyone thinks about leadership, culture, and business. Let's drive outcomes by creating a culture where people are put before profits. Focus on the people, and the numbers will come!

Our philosophy is that we care about people first. -Mark Zuckerberg

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Customer Experience and Digital Transformation

Image courtesy of Quadient
Are you communicating with customers in their preferred methods?

That's only one of many questions we discussed last week, when I had the pleasure of participating in the keynote panel for Quadient's third virtual CX Transformation Day. The panel, moderated by Mirza Baig, Quadient's Director of Digital and Advocacy Marketing, included David Poole, with the Financial Services Center of Excellence at Publicis Sapient; Paul DeSantis, Chief Operating Officer of ANRO; and myself. It was a lively discussion to kickoff the day, as we talked about customer experience, journey mapping, digital transformation, print, and, of course, fax machines!

We covered a lot of territory as we discussed and deconstructed the hype around the latest disruptive technologies, citing real world and practical examples. At the same time, we talked about technology's impact on employee engagement and culture change. Just a few of the topics we hit on included:
  • The power of using data to comply with governance and legal frameworks in relation to your customers' marketing and privacy needs.
  • The concept of the "Enterprise Startup."
  • The core vs. the edge when starting a digital transformation pilot program.
  • How to build out out process workflows in parallel to provide faster application acceptance and better customer service.
  • Going beyond messaging bots and Alexa - a deep-dive into omnichannel interactions and communications.
  • Back to the basics - being customer-centric with the ability to interact with your customer on their terms.
  • And never forgetting that communication is a critical piece of the experience, during both purchasing and ownership stages.
In addition, you won't want to miss David Poole talking about developing the journey manager role and organizing the business around specific journeys.

And Paul deSantis talked about marketing developers, another interesting role that goes beyond simply placing graphical elements on marketing collateral, instead putting some data and some science behind it, as well.

The discussion is fast-paced, fun, and thought-provoking. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy this informative panel from CX Transformation Day!

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally-understood language. -Walt Disney


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tips for Designing a Closed-Loop Feedback Process

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Do you close the loop with customers after they provide feedback?

Many companies listen to customers, but a big chunk of these companies don't do anything with the feedback or follow up with customers about what they heard. What a shame! What a huge missed opportunity!

Remember the old Gartner stat: 95% of companies collect customer feedback. Yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard. It's from a few years ago but still fairly representative. I've seen the 10% as high as 34% in some studies. Perhaps the 5% has bumped up a bit, but tell me the last time you heard from a company after providing feedback. It's pretty rare.

This week's #CXChat (they happen weekly on Wednesdays at 11am PT) is all about closing the loop with customers on their feedback, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to write again about the importance of doing so.

Customers take time to provide feedback, to help companies improve! Why don't companies act on the feedback or close the loop with customers? I've got a few thoughts on that:

At Some Point, You Have to Stop Listening
Two Major Flaws of Your Customer Listening Efforts
Today's VoC Program Challenges

A closed-loop feedback process begins with feedback. And that means it actually begins with the survey or the listening post from which the feedback is derived. Let's focus on surveys as the feedback channel.

First and foremost, you'll need to design surveys that provide you with actionable feedback. Some tips to do that can be found in these posts:

22 Tips for Proper Survey Design
20 Signs That It's Time for a VoC Redesign
Surveys Don't Sell!
Do You Employ Actionability Thinking in Survey Design?
How Do You Know When It's Time to Redesign Your VoC Program?
Customer Surveys are as Important as Ever
Improving the Respondent Experience

And you'll need to ensure that you maximize response rates.

Maximizing Survey Response Rates - Part 1: Defining Concepts
Maximizing Survey Response Rates - Part 2: 10 Tips to Achieve Your Goal

Once the feedback starts pouring in, you'll want to make some sense of it. There are many different ways to analyze the data.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
CEM Toolbox: Making Sense of Your Data
Data is Just Data...
Making Sense of Customer Words
The Definition of CX Insanity
The Future is Now: Take Your Customer Data to the Next Level
Data for the Sake of Data? Never!

What will you do with the feedback? What will you do with the analysis? How will you socialize it with employees? Design a closed-loop process - and empower employees to follow up with customers.
  • Ensure that your VoC platform allows for automated alerts that are triggered based on customer responses to certain questions in the survey.
  • Set up workflows and case tracking. 
  • Thank customers for their feedback.
  • Share the feedback with employees.
  • Triage those customers who have issues, whether new or unresolved.
  • Conduct root cause analysis. 
  • Fix the problem.
  • Let customers know what you did and what the new experience will be. 
  • Train employees on the resolution/new experience.
  • Remeasure: What do customers think about the new experience? Do they consider the issue to be resolved? How well did you improve the experience?
Transforming the Customer Experience with Big Data
Five Fails to Avoid with Your VoC Program
Closing the Loop on CX Improvements
Tips to Help You Close the Loop with Your Customers

Two final things to consider:
  1. Follow up with customers who provided positive feedback, too. Appreciate the positive; improve the negative.
  2. If there's an issue, that's not the end. Research shows that customers who had an issue that was followed up with successful service recovery tend to me more loyal than if there had never been a problem.
Listen. Follow up. Appreciate. Recover. Delight.

It takes humility to seek feedback; it takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it. -Stephen Covey