Thursday, April 28, 2016

Haters are the Canary in the Coal Mine for Your Company

Image courtesy of moon angel
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Jay Baer.

Haters are the early warning detection system for your business, much like a canary in a coal mine. So keep in mind that haters (canaries) are not the problem...

Ignoring them is.

The real problem for your business is the people who have a poor experience but are not passionate enough about you and your company to take the time to say something about it. They are the “meh” in the middle, and they are what kill businesses

One benefit of paying attention to feedback is the ability to glean insights about your business that can improve your operations and processes.

Frank Eliason understands how this works and has captained these programs for very large companies that attract a high volume of customer feedback, including the television and Internet access company Comcast, and Citi, where he served as the global director of the customer experience team. Eliason is also the author of the excellent book @ Your Service.

Solving problems creates value
“The best dollars and cents come when you start to make process improvements based on feedback. It’s harder to do with calls, and easier to analyze online. You can start to understand where your frustration points are and fix those. Each of those has a monetary value to them,” he says.

Kristen Kavalier, vice president of customer relations at NewBrand, the software tool employed by Le Pain Quotidien and hundreds of other businesses to find, analyze, sift, sort, and respond to customers across many online platforms, explains how this works: “To a certain extent, we’ll report on star ratings and rankings and averages, but mostly we throw them away in our analysis and actually look at the content itself. What was the actual verbatim commentary and how can we break that down, categorize it, and score it in a way that we can create structure and meaning and intelligence from it? How can we can aggregate it all, and provide our customer with something really actionable? We want to create some intelligence from all the noise that’s out there.”

Don’t take it personally
Square Cow Movers is a small, family-owned moving company based in central Texas with four locations. They handle long-distance and commercial moves, but the company’s core service is local residential moves, according to managing partner Wade Lombard.

As a small operator, haters hit Lombard hard. The tendency is to take complaints personally because he and his immediate family are so intertwined in the business. It's their life and their livelihood.

Lombard compares the emotional ties he has to his business to
 what he feels about his children. "I can go to my son's baseball 
game, and he can hit a home run, and I will feel like, man, that is my 
DNA, that is my offspring, I'm the best dad ever," he says. "And the
very next day – this hasn't happened but it could – I can get a call 
from the principal who says, 'Hey, your son's in the office for disciplinary reasons,' and I'm so disappointed in whatever action he took 
to land there.”

“And it's similar with business,” Lombard says. “One day I can feel so 
proud of what we've been able to build and what we've been able to 
do. And the next day, one of our guys can do something silly, or a 
client can call and they can have a legitimate complaint. And I 
will be so down in the dumps, my emotional spectrum will just 
plummet. And so I think for responding to complaints the key is to 
try to take the emotion out of it and say to yourself, 'What can I 
learn from this?'" 

Pay attention to patterns of misunderstandings
There are lots of details in the moving business and much back-and-forth with customers, who are already on edge due to the stresses inherent in any move. Square Cow Movers wasn't handling 
those communication details well, a fact Lombard discovered by paying attention to complaints. 

"What we found in the reviews was that most of the issues people
 had with us were when people were unaware of what time we were going to get there, or they were unaware of certain rules or regulations related to moving. And so what we started to do is pick up on 
patterns. We found these patterns of misunderstandings, and said to ourselves, 'Okay, because this is a pattern, obviously we're not doing 
our part to communicate properly,'" he says. 

Lombard and his team changed company policy and procedure 
as a result, adopting a policy known as "Over-communication is a 
myth." Today, the company goes out of its way to inform and educate customers multiple times throughout the moving process, and 
negative feedback based on misunderstandings has subsequently plummeted.

A catalyst for excellence
When you're able to analyze and act to improve your operations, complaints become not something annoying that have to be "dealt with" but rather massively valuable, free information that can be a catalyst for excellence.

Rather than trying to reduce the number of complaints and eliminate haters, you should instead encourage complaints and make customer feedback mechanisms as plentiful and simple as possible.

Drawn from Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, about which Guy Kawasaki says: "This is a landmark book in the history of customer service.” Written by Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters is the first customer service and customer experience book written for the modern, mobile era and is based on proprietary research and more than 70 exclusive interviews.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Have Your Journey Maps Failed You?

Image courtesy of GMC Software
Have you gone through some journey mapping exercises, only to find that the maps don't deliver what the experts said they would?

Have your maps failed you?

What happened? Did you pick a scenario, put some paper on the wall, distribute Post-It Notes, and tell people to start writing down the steps to for said scenario? And then said, "Now what?"

It's really a shame that so many people experience and tell this same story, which ends in frustration and disbelief.

Done right, though, journey maps are powerful tools to help you understand the customer experience, identify painpoints and moments of truth, and prioritize redesign elements that matter most to the customer.

So I was thrilled to work with GMC Software to co-author a whitepaper titled "Don't Waste Your Time with Journey Maps." The paper is based on the following problem statement:
Customer journey maps are useless because they’re just not actionable. They don’t allow the customer experience professional to identify and to improve those items or areas that have the greatest impact on the customer and his experience.
Of course, you know how I feel about journey mapping by now, so I hope you'll take a moment to download the whitepaper, read it, and use the tips I provide to make sure your journey maps are not a waste of time.

As a follow-on to the whitepaper, I had a lively conversation with Mirza Baig as we recorded GMC Software's first podcast and launched their InspireCast series. The three-part "CX Talk" interview was released last week, and we covered the gamut of CX topics, which you can hear by clicking on the links below:

Why CX is a must for business
Customer journey mapping for business (part 1: challenges and best practices)
Customer journey mapping for business (part 2: ownership, measurement, and maintenance)

Each segment lasts 15-20 minutes, so if you can't listen to them all now, please bookmark these and come back to finish listening later. Mirza asks me some great questions and probes deeper into some of the content in the whitepaper.

Remember: You can't transform something you don't understand. Journey maps are a critical tool to help you understand the current state of the customer experience. And they can do so much more.

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. –Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Top 10 #CX Challenges for 2016

Image courtesy of Juju Insipired
What customer experience challenges are you facing this year?

Even though 2016 is already a third of the way over, I thought it would be interesting to share some findings about key customer experience challenges that have been identified for this year. Sadly, they are really not much different from what we've heard in recent years.

Are companies really not making progress? You tell me. What was your last really awesome experience? And was the previous one you had with that company equally as awesome? And how many other companies have you interacted with since then? Were those experiences awesome, too?

Yea, I didn't think so.

You may have heard me say before that it's hard to talk about customer experience trends when there are still so many companies who need to get the basics right. For example, while companies might be listening to their customers, they aren't necessarily acting on the feedback. That's pointless. Or they're so focused on the metric that they overlook what customers are actually saying.

And that's what the findings are: the challenges are really around the fundamental basics or the foundational elements of a CX strategy.

CX Network recently published The Global State of Customer Experience 2016. Respondents were mostly CX practitioners (65.7%), with the remainder being solution providers (25.5%) and industry bloggers, analysts, and researchers (8.7%).

The report is packed with trends, challenges, and recommendations from folks who either live it or who advise on the topic. I'll focus on the Challenges section of the report, as this is an area that needs to be addressed before most businesses can move forward with their customer experience initiatives. The following graphic shows the top 10 challenges for this year, grouped by each of those three respondent types.

Source: The Global State of Customer Experience 2016
If you click on the image, you'll be able to see a larger version of it. You'll see how the practitioner responses compared to the predictions of vendors and consultants. Creating a customer-first culture is the top challenge for practitioners, followed by competing priorities, employee engagement, omnichannel experiences, and shifting from a product-focus to a customer-focus.

I can sum them all up as the following: commitment issues. Executive commitment issues, that is.

And that is a basic, fundamental issue that every organization with a consistently poor customer experience faces. I'm not surprised by these findings.

I loved that Zarina de Ruiter, the author of this research paper, asked practitioners what would help them overcome these challenges. Business cases to demonstrate ROI and culture change programs were a couple of the top answers. Others included: executives working together to make it happen, better communication across the organization, best practices to support their needs, a reduction in strategic priorities, a budget increase, more training and executive commitment to learning and development, increased board-level awareness of the importance of customer experience, and clearer communication from vendors on the benefits of an improved customer experience.

Do those challenges resonate with you and with what's happening within your organization? How are you addressing them?

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. -Unknown

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Business Case for a Great Employee Experience

Have you put the spotlight on the employee experience at your company?

I've written many times about the importance of the employee experience, both on its own with regard to retention and performance and with regard to the impact of the employee experience on the customer experience.

Sadly, many companies still aren't focusing on the employee experience. IDC's 2015 EXPERIENCES Survey work found that 81% of companies listen to customers about their experiences, but 69.4% of companies do not measure the employee experience.

For those still looking for proof that this is a real thing, I've started to take note of some recent research and statistics about the impact of a great employee experience. I thought I'd start to compile them in one place and share with you, in case you're in the process of building the business case or need to nudge your company that employees matter.

It's important to note that the employee experience starts well before the employee signs on the dotted line. Consider that your candidates may already know the brand through their own interactions as customers; or they may know someone who works - or has worked - for the company.

So let's start there, with the employer brand. Just as your brand is important to attracting and retaining customers, your employer brand attracts potential employees and drives whether they'll want to stay. How does your employer brand impact the business? (After all, that's what executives want to know: if we focus on the employee experience, what does that mean for the business?) Dr. John Sullivan wrote a great article about 10 employer branding business impact metrics that you should track. Pick the ones you want to focus on, but they are listed in order, with the most powerful ones first.
  1. Better-performing new hires that result from your branding effort
  2. An increase in overall workforce productivity
  3. Increased revenue from hires in revenue-generating positions
  4. A high employee referral rate increases productivity
  5. A higher employee retention rate of current employees
  6. A reduced failure rate among new hires
  7. Your applicants come from top firms
  8. A higher ratio of winning head-to-head recruiting competitions
  9. A positive giveaway/takeaway ratio
  10. Employer branding program ROI
Interesting that he places ROI at the bottom of the list because it seems like that's where everyone starts! Kevin Kruse defines the ROI or the business impact of employee engagement (which is just one component or measure of the employee experience, along with trust, happiness, satisfaction, retention, etc.) as the Engagement-Profit Chain, which looks like this.

Engaged employees lead to...
  • higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…
  • higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…
  • increased sales (from more repeat business and referrals), which leads to…
  • higher levels of profit, which leads to…
  • higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price)
Those are pretty powerful outcomes for the business. I don't think anyone can argue with that. Here's a graphic that supports that last bullet point about higher shareholder returns. Watermark Consulting looked at the employee experience leaders based on Great Place to Work findings and charted their performance on the S&P 500 for the last 18 years, from 1997 to 2014. Their annualized returns outperformed the stock market by nearly double.

Source: Watermark Consulting
Gallup is, obviously, well known for its employee engagement research. The graphic below depicts some of their findings, with the moral of the story being: those companies in the top quartile in employee engagement outperform those in the bottom quartile on 10 key metrics, including turnover, productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

Aon Hewitt's 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement tells us the following: a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

In their work, Dale Carnegie Training uncovered that $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover and that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.

In a report published by PwC, they cited: Based on stock performance, Wharton professor Alex Edmans determined that companies on the Fortune list of “best companies to work for” outperformed their peers by 2–3 percent per year.

In a whitepaper by Rutgers, A New Framework of Employee Engagement, they note that: a meta-analysis of the financial performance of 1,979 business units in ten companies found that business units that score above the database median on both employee and customer engagement metrics were, on average, 3.4 times more effective financially (in terms of total sales and revenue, performance to target, and year-over-year gain in sales and revenues) than units that rank in the bottom half on both measures.

There's also this Sears work that I've cited a few times from a 1998 article in Harvard Business Review; it summarizes the work that Sears executives did to rebuild the company to focus on customers. The article talks about the new business model and what they discovered: "There is a chain of cause and effect running from employee behavior to customer behavior to profits." 

When Sears went through this transformation in the '90s, they saw some impressive results (according to the same article):

Our model shows that a 5 point improvement in employee attitudes will drive a 1.3 point improvement in customer satisfaction, which in turn will drive a 0.5% improvement in revenue growth.


Independent surveys show that national retail customer satisfaction has fallen for several consecutive years, but in the course of the last 12 months, employee satisfaction on the Sears TPI has risen by 4%, and customer satisfaction by almost 4%. That may seem a trivial improvement. But if our model is correct—and its predictive record is extremely good—that 4% improvement in customer satisfaction translates into more than $200 million in additional revenues in the past 12 months. At our current after-tax margin and price-earnings ratio, those extra revenues increase our market capitalization by nearly one-quarter of a billion dollars. Even more impressive from our point of view is what our model tells us: it is our managers and employees who, at the moment of truth in front of the customer, have achieved this prodigious feat of value creation.

I think one of the most disheartening things that I read - though I'm not surprised at all - is that 7 out of 10 companies don't even measure employee engagement or the employee experience. (But then I also question what the other 3 are doing with what they heard!) That's insane. It's really important for companies to understand the impact the employee experience has on the customer experience, on the business, on business outcomes, and more.

Just like with customer experience initiatives, employee experience initiatives and culture transformations and making your company a great place to work happens top-down. If your CEO isn't committed to the transformation, setting expectations for her managers, and being the role model for how to deliver a great employee experience, it won't happen. A couple of examples of companies with committed CEOs that come to mind include: Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Amazon, and Barry-Wehmiller.

What about your company? Would you add it to this list of examples? Or is your company part of "that statistic?"

Lots of people know how to manage their business; too few know how to lead their people. -Unknown

Friday, April 15, 2016

At Some Point, You Have to Stop Listening

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Do you survey and listen to customers ad nauseum?

Are you surveying every customer at every interaction or transaction they have with your company?

Do different departments in your company survey the same customers? Do you research a topic (or several topics) to death?

Are you tracking what customers are saying about your company on social media and other venues through which they can provide feedback?  

Are you feeling a little bit of data overload? Yet you still keep asking and listening.

Keep listening... but hold that thought.

Listening to customers is, without a doubt, important to designing a great experience and to business success. Too many companies, though, forget that the "work" doesn't end with listening. It's only just begun!

By now, you're probably familiar with the Gartner statistic: 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 a statistic from years ago, but I believe that it's still representative; companies are still not using feedback to make improvements, but to check a box that says, "We do that.

Listening has several parts to it; combined, they all embody the ideal VoC closed-loop initiative, which includes listening, analyzing, acting, and communicating. I previously wrote 
When we think about a conversation, we typically understand that it has two parts: speaking and listening. It's a two-way street. I would actually add a third component:hearing. Yes, we talk; and yes, we say we listen. But do we actually hear what has been said? I think hearing requires a subsequent action or reaction. And in the customer conversation, that part is often missing.
When you listen, make sure you hear what is being said before you act or react. When you stop, listen, and really hear, you are better able to understand customers' (or employees', as this applies to both) needs and jobs they are trying to do, allowing you to better design for those jobs or to fulfill those needs. You're also better able to understand their questions or issues and address those or point customers in the right direction to get the issues resolved. In a timely manner.
Understanding is key. Listening is critical. Acting is imperative. 

The problem? There are those companies, those departments, that just keep listening. And listening. And listening. And then don't ever do anything with what they hear. They just come up with other creative ways to ask their customers questions about the same issues or the same topics. All in the name of listening.

And then, when they can't listen anymore, they analyze the data to death. How many different ways can we segment and slice it? What other nuggets can we find? This all takes weeks and months - and then the data is old and outdated. So then it's time to, you guessed it, survey again.

Sound familiar at all?

I've seen clients stuck in this vortex. It's not pretty.

What's going on? Why can't you act yet?
  • Are you simply "collecting feedback?"
  • Do you not have enough data?
  • Do you not have the right data?
  • Is the data not actionable?
  • Did you not ask the right questions?
  • Did you ask the wrong audience? 
  • For the questions you asked, do you not have owners who are waiting for some results on which to act?
  • Are you avoiding doing the work necessary to make sure the data is acted on?
  • Are you afraid you won't get resources committed to doing the work?
  • Haven't you socialized the work you're doing in order to get commitment from the organization?
  • Do you not have an efficient way to analyze the data?
  • Are you not sure how to analyze? or how to tell the story?
  • Are you not sharing the data and the analysis with key stakeholders so they can do something with it?
  • Do you not know what you're doing or what you need to do?
At some point, you have to stop listening. And start doing. OK, you're not really going to stop listening, but you have to move beyond that and move into the action phase. You know what I mean. When you've got listening down, you need to shift your focus on acting. Otherwise, it's all for nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing or what you're supposed to do, get some help.

Never confuse movement with action. -Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How Partners Impact the Omnichannel Equation

Image courtesy of TechGenStaffer
I originally wrote today's post for Intradiem. It was published on their blog on November 18, 2015

Are you considering all of your channels when you think about the omnichannel experience?

A couple months ago, I wrote about improving the omnichannel experience to reduce customer effort. In my closing statement, I mentioned that I'd write about a channel that you may not think about when you’re making the transition and the transformation from multichannel to omnichannel experiences. I think most companies only consider phone, web, social, email, in store, in person, etc. when thinking about the omnichannel experience. That's a good start. But there's one more to consider.

The group I'm referring to? Partners, e.g. resellers, distributors, franchisees, licensees, etc.

Oh yea. Those guys (gals).

In reality, a lot of companies fail to include this particular group in their overall customer experience improvement strategies.

If you've ever purchased an airline ticket through a site like Expedia, Orbitz, or Kayak, you've purchased from a partner. Or think about the codeshare partner experience, e.g., you bought a ticket with American but your flight is actually on Alaska. If you get your Starbucks fix at "Tarbucks" (Starbucks inside a Target store), you're interacting with a partner. If you work out at a gym, most of the time you're probably working out at a franchised location, not a corporate club.

In the example of "Tarbucks" (or in any instance when you're interacting with a franchisee), you may not even know that you're not dealing with a corporate store. As a matter of fact, I bet most customers don't realize that. Nor do they care. Nor should they. The sign above the counters say "Starbucks." The baristas wear the green aprons. And by all other accounts, they sure look like Starbucks. The experience from store to store ought to be seamless. And yet, they are not.

To some/a large degree, companies are responsible for the experience that customers have with their  partners/at those touchpoints. It starts with choosing partners wisely. Know what the customer experience will be via that partner. Why? Because that experience can be just as detrimental to the brand and to the customer relationship as if the customer had dealt with your company directly. 

Companies have brand standards for partners. The problem is, most of the time, those standards revolve around things like logos, colors, look-n-feel, identity, marketing efforts, dress code, and other brand guidelines. They ought to spend more time focusing on the experience standards and how to ensure that the experience is consistent from one store/location or partner to the next.

Partners must adhere to those standards. SLAs (service level agreements) ought to be in place. (Sadly, I've talked to franchisors who have no idea what an SLA is.) These partners are clearly a touchpoint, and they are an extension of the brand. Choose them wisely. They need to represent the brand and reflect the company's culture and experience. If they don't, then it leads to yet another disjointed experience for the customer.

How does this apply to the omnichannel equation? Well, in order to make the omnichannel experience seamless and successful, companies really need to consider the entire customer experience ecosystem, not just parts and pieces of it.

Some tips to help with the partner/omnichannel experience.

  • Partners are touchpoints, too. Pay attention! 
  • Listen to customers about the partner customer experience.
  • Customers need those partner experiences to be seamless.
  • Choose your partners wisely. (I know. I keep repeating that.)
  • Listen to partners about the partner experience.
  • Listen to partners about the customer experience.
  • Act on their feedback and concerns.
  • You are responsible for the quality of your customers' interactions with those partners; you chose them to be your partner, to represent your brand. (Think about how much care you take in hiring a new employee; partners need to be scrutinized for culture fit and more, too.)
  • Don't confuse customers with inconsistent language, messaging, etc., especially across partners and channels.
  • Don't confuse customers by making them figure out your discombobulated partnership arrangements.
  • Train partners just like you would employees. Share customer feedback with them. Communication is key to the success of partnership arrangements.
  • Educate employees (your company's and the partner's) about the brand experience and what that means to you - and to your customers.
  • Remove policies that make the partner/omnichannel experience painful 
  • Develop SLAs around the customer experience.
How can you gauge success? How will you know if you've done everything right to set up customers for a great omnichannel experience? A great metric for the partner customer experience is Customer Effort Score. The effort far exceeds the expectations all too often. It doesn't have to be that way, though.

The bottom line is that the brand experience needs to be seamless, regardless of where or how your customers interact with the brand.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How to Establish a Strong Service Culture Fast

Image courtesy of lpk90901
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post authored by Jochen Wirtz and Ron Kaufman.

Ron and I have been working on this topic for many years and are happy to report that the April issue of Harvard Business Review picked up our ideas and published a short piece in the Idea Watch section in the April 2016 issue. In this post, we summarize this article and add insights for service leaders and practitioners who would like to know more.

Traditional Approaches to Often Don’t Work!
Our key message is that traditional approaches to service improvement often don’t work. They are fragmented, incremental, and based on faulty assumptions about the true nature of service. Companies try these approaches again and again, and while they may enjoy temporary surges of improvement, people run out of steam and the improvement dies. Instead, many companies would benefit from a more dramatic service revolution that quickly rebuilds their culture around the vision of taking action to create new or greater value for others.

Four Common Mistakes and How to Do it Better
There is a better way to build a culture that quickly and dramatically improves customer service. While many people think changing an organization’s culture takes a long time, we have had the opportunity to experiment and observe a wide variety of companies for the past 25 years. We have been part of many innovations and successes. In the process, we observed four common mistakes companies make when implementing service revolutions, and we propose a more effective and proven way to make sure a service revolution sticks and achieves sustainable service improvements.
They are:

Rule #1: Don’t start with customer-facing employees. Instead, involve everyone, with a special focus on internal service providers.
We found that customer service reps usually understand the importance of satisfied customers; often the real problem lies with other backend function such as logistics, IT, HR, that isn’t meeting their frontline colleagues’ needs. When that’s the case, efforts to train customer-facing employees often generates frustration. Therefore, include everyone in service training, and focus special attention on internal service providers.

Rule #2: Don’t start by training people on specific service skills, scripts and procedures. Instead, educate them first to a better understanding of what service excellence really means.
Educate employees more generally about what “service excellence” means. Companies spend vast sums training employees to follow procedures and flowcharts when interacting with customers. (“If the customer says X, respond with Y.”) They may then monitor phone calls or use “mystery shoppers” to ensure adherence to the new rules. But highly scripted employees are often less able to be imaginative or empathetic about a customer’s true needs.

A better approach is to persuade employees to commit to a holistic definition of service: creating value for others, outside and within the organization. Teach them to first appreciate customers’ concerns and only then to take action. They should continually ask themselves, “Who am I going to serve, and what do they need and value most?”  This way, employees slip into the shoes of their customers and take actions aligned with what delights their customers.

Rule #3: Don’t pilot the change. Instead, go big and go fast to build momentum for the new culture.
Conventional wisdom calls for limited experiments that, if successful, are later rolled out more broadly.  That can work for small tweaks in an organization’s culture, but for more-sweeping change, organizations must create momentum fast and set their sights high.

Rule #4: Don’t focus on traditional KPIs during the service revolution (such as satisfaction, NPS, operational measures, and sales). Instead, focus on leading “revolution indicators” (i.e., ideas generated and ideas implemented) to generate value-adding ideas and new service actions.

Instead of worrying about typical customer satisfaction measures such as share of wallet and net promoter scores, organizations that aim for dramatic change should look at the number of new value adding service ideas put into practice. It’s not that traditional metrics are unimportant, but because they are “lagging indicators” that don’t show quick improvements and discourage employees, and they can bog down efforts to achieve rapid, dramatic change. Use indicators that respond quickly to actions taken, and that build momentum and excitement in the organization.

For which kinds of companies would the ideas presented work well and for which will they not work well?
These four rules would work very well for B2C or B2B companies whose products have become commoditized and who want to differentiate on service. They’re great for companies who know they provide sub-optimal service and want to change that, for companies that have undergone mergers and want to create a vibrant new culture, and for companies that have grown rapidly with a primary focus on sales and now need to build a culture of service.

On the other hand, the four rules will not work well for companies that don’t need a revolution—those that have excellent service coded into their DNA already (such as Disney, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, USAA, or Zappos). Also, they won’t work for companies whose top leaders aren’t 100 percent behind the change.

How can the ideas presented in this article be applied other organizations?
Any organization can follow the four rules outlined in the article, and if they implement them properly, their odds of success are vastly improved.  Today, companies need dramatic change more than ever before. In the past it was possible to gradually try to catch up, but in a global economy a smaller more nimble company can grow very quickly and leap ahead of you. The ideas advanced in this article helps leaders to stage their own successful service revolutions.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, check out:
Jochen Wirtz is Professor of Marketing at the National University of Singapore. Jochen has over publications on service marketing, including 5 features in Harvard Business Review.  He authored the globally-leading text book Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy (World Scientific, 8th edition, 2016, co-authored with Christopher Lovelock).   

Ron Kaufman is the founder and chairman of  UP! Your Service College. Ron is author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service and 14 other books on service, business, and inspiration, with sales exceeding 500,000 copies. Ron’s engaging approach to service education has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Expectations Are Funny Things

Image courtesy of PinkMoose
How well do you know and understand your customers' expectations?

And why are they important?

Merriam-Webster defines an expectation as a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.

But where do those beliefs, those expectations come from?

There are a variety of ways that customer expectations are formed:
  • brand promise
  • marketing and advertising
  • stated outright, e.g., we do X
  • previous experience
  • word of mouth or reviews and feedback from other customers
  • from within ourselves, our own set of morals and values and how we would treat others
 Expectations are funny things. 
  • Customers have them, but they are not in control of them, not in control of the outcomes.
  • Customers have them, but companies must know them and understand them.
  • Companies set them (brand promise, service delivery, documentation, etc.), yet they have trouble delivering against them (consistently).
Understanding your customers' expectations helps you deliver against them - and deliver a great experience. The equation goes: Performance - Expectations = Satisfaction. When the company and its employees know and understand those expectations, they can develop products and services, deliver service, interact with customers, and more in such a way that ensures they meet or exceed those expectations.

Yup. Expectations are funny things. It's why we see some of the quotes that we see, like...

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. -Alexander Pope

You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you. Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations. -Bill Watterson

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus. -Stephen Hawking

Expectation is the root of all heartache. -William Shakespeare

Because expectations are important and interesting, they're a topic that makes the rounds of discussions, podcasts, and blog posts. Great to keep them alive!

So it was great when, last week, Stan Phelps and I were invited to join the CMSConnected Show to answer the question, "Are Expectations Too High for Customer Experience?" It was an engaging discussion, with hosts Stephen Saber and Scott Liewehr digging in to really try to understand the why behind these expectations. We answered questions like:
  • How do you define customer experience management?
  • Are customer expectations a myth?
  • How do companies measure and gauge customer expectations?
  • How are expectations increasing?
  • Why are expectations increasing?
To hear the answers to those questions and more, please have a listen to the show.

The first step in exceeding your customer's expectations is to know those expectations. -Roy H. Williams, Author, Wizards of Ads trilogy