Heart of the Customer in Expert Interview Series

Something different. I was recently interviewed by Netscout as part of their Expert Interview Series for CIO Brief. A copy is below. Enjoy!

Jim Tincher is the Mapper-In-Chief of HEART OF THE CUSTOMER, where he helps brands understand how hard it is to be their customer. We recently asked for his insight on how businesses can better know their customers and improve their customer experience. Here’s what he shared:

Can you tell us about the mission behind Heart of the Customer? What are your goals?

Our mission is to help change agents transform their organization to fully internalize the voice of their customer and to drive action against that. Our goals are to provide those change agents with the call to action needed to drive change.

How has the way brands engage with customers evolved since you launched your business?

Customer experience is now being taken more seriously. In the last few years we have seen the rise of the customer experience (CX) organization, charged with driving the company to build a customer-centric approach. However, we’re still at a fairly early stage, so methodologies are not yet robust. We’re in a very exciting time, as we are building the tools that will become the standard. Read more

Half of all journeys maps fail to drive change. Don’t be a statistic.

Customer journey maps are a customer experience (CX) leader’s best friend. Done well, a journey mapping initiative aligns your teams around a shared vision to an improved customer experience. Effective journey maps engage your entire company to align on your customers’ moments of truth, showcasing how to create more loyal customers.

Unfortunately, these initiatives fail far too often.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the voice of the industry, from our first annual Journey Mapping Best Practices Survey. We surveyed over one hundred journey mapping practitioners and vendors to discover the state of the art in journey mapping.

The results weren’t encouraging. For those practitioners who have had time to evaluate their success, half gave their journey mapping initiative a failing grade. The key reason? A failure to drive action. Read more

Building a customer room at Prudential – an interview with Jason Kapel

A customer room is a fantastic way to communicate just what it’s like to be your customer. Jason Kapel of Prudential discussed their customer room at a CXPA meeting, and I asked him to share his experience with our readers.

How did you come up with the idea of a customer room?

I wanted to get people engaged with the idea of CX—not just hand them another article, or give yet another PowerPoint presentation. I wanted to get people really engaged in the idea. So after reading about a health insurer’s customer room, we built a room of our own and took it to Prudential’s primary employee locations as part of a CX roadshow.

And what is a customer room, exactly?

A customer room is exactly what it sounds like: a room full of information about customers that employees and other visitors can experience in a unique and interactive way. Simple to understand—but complex in how it helps people understand the purpose and usefulness of CX. Read more

Help your B2B clients, help yourself

As a B2B company, you have a great opportunity to see the big picture that is hidden from your clients. By serving multiple clients, you can see something they can’t – and that they most definitely need to know.

Your clients use your products and services in a vacuum. They probably have a good idea as to how they themselves use your services. But they want to know if they’re taking the best advantage of your offerings. Are others using your products and services in a more optimal manner?

It’s time to make your data transparent. You have the unique lens to see how all your customers use your products and services. Proactively share that information with clients to create joint success. Read more

Interview with Bob Thomas of the YMCA: Confident Employees Make Satisfied Customers

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Bob, not in the proper uniform

Bob Thomas is the chief experience officer for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. He is responsible for engaging community members to help them meet their personal goals while ensuring a great Y experience through integrated marketing, membership sales, and healthy living programs including swim lessons, group exercise, personal training, chronic disease prevention, and healthy aging. Prior to joining the Y, Bob held marketing, sales, and sales operations leadership positions at Boston Scientific. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from the University of St. Thomas. Bob serves as the chair of the board of The Sheridan Story and actively volunteers at Colonial Church of Edina.

Bob recently led a rollout of new uniforms for the Y’s employees, referred to as team members. The goal was to influence team members to better engage with customers and further increase their pride in the Y brand.  Team branding creates a work environment where every decision and every behavior embodies the specific attributes of the brand. We asked him more about the move to the new uniforms.

You recently led a change to the YMCA team uniforms. Could you tell us a little about the background of the uniforms, and why it was time for a change?

About six years ago, the Y switched from their old, black-and-red logo to a dual-color logo that uses five different color combinations, which was meant to symbolize diversity and flexibility.  The change in logo came with a change in uniform: At the time the decision was made to embrace all of the colors of the new brand, so the uniforms consisted of polo shirts that came in a variety of colors, but were primarily white—which meant they showed dirt, and looked bad even after very little basic wear-and-tear. To add to that, they didn’t fit very well, and team members soon began to express their disappointment with the required uniform.  The uniform became known as the “bowling shirts.” Read more

It Takes a Broad Team to Improve Customer Journeys

I recently participated in a round table sponsored by Barclaycard Business discussing the importance to e-commerce businesses to plan and understand their customer journeys. You can read more about the round table here.

We discussed numerous topics. But one we agreed upon was the need to simplify the experience. Customers aren’t willing to figure out your site – if it’s not easy, they’ll abandon their purchase.

You might think this is a no-brainer. But, if so, why do we still have websites that make it hard to buy, with buried “Buy” buttons, or page after page of information required before completing the transaction? If we all want to make the journey easier, why are so many still so difficult? Read more

Every customer experience project is a culture project

Culture is the biggest determinant of effective customer experience. While that’s especially evident in the service space, it’s also true for every other type of company. When your culture focuses more on its own viewpoint than your customers’, you end up with convoluted processes, terrible return policies, and overly-complicated products.

That’s why I was happy to see some of the results from our first-ever journey mapping survey. We’re finalizing the analysis, which will be available soon. So, here’s a teaser about some of the results that are relevant to building a customer-focused culture. Read more

Interview with Steve Eagon of Unitron: Creating a Great Patient Experience

steve-eagonSteve Eagon is the Director of In-Clinic success at Unitron. In his role, he works directly with clinics to directly help them improve their patient experience. Steve and Jim have co-presented at multiple conferences, so we asked him to explain his approach towards building an improved patient experience.

As someone who is very patient-focused in the hearing care industry, what do you see as the most import focus points in building more patient-focused experiences in hearing care?

Hearing care professionals have a ton of knowledge at their fingertips—they have a great deal of education and experience in the field, and know a lot about hearing care. This is a great thing—except when it leads them to overcomplicate matters when they communicate to the patient about their hearing care.

This is a common symptom of the biggest customer experience issue in the hearing care profession today: hearing care professionals do what they think is best without looking through the patients’ eyes to really see their point of view. They’re projecting their own values onto the patient—you hear a lot of “I think the patient this” and “I was always taught that,” a lot of “I” statements. But you can’t truly help the patient until you’ve stepped outside that mindset, and started seeing things through the lens of the patient. Read more

Creating Radical CX Change, the Quiet Way

phone-1742833_640At CXPA events I often run across new attendees with a familiar story. They’re obsessed with customers, and they want to transform their companies to be more customer-focused. They desperately want to change their companies! But they’re not in a customer experience (CX) role.

How, they ask, can they change their company if their company hasn’t given them a CX title?

It’s a great question. It’s always easier if you have the title. If the company cares enough to create a customer experience role, and to trust you in it, that’s a huge head start. It’s still difficult to drive change, but at least you’re beginning with some momentum.

But what if you don’t have a CX role?

I was discussing this very issue at CX Day when our speaker reminded me of the classic Harvard Business Review article Radical Change, the Quiet Way by Debra Meyerson. The article is focused more on confronting such challenges as racism, gender bias, and other workplace issues, and recommends you become a “tempered radical” to make moderate changes in your culture.

While these issues are obviously very serious, these skills also apply to our domain.  Read more

Eight Ways to Build Customer Empathy

workplace-1245776_640Customer empathy is absolutely critical to a company-focused culture. Without empathy, employees focus on their own problems, rather than your customers’. They build overly-complex products based on what they want to buy, rather than starting with customer needs. And they certainly don’t understand the emotional context of your customers.

Both Forrester and the Temkin Group have begun focusing much more on the emotional elements of an experience, which is spot-on. Emotions are the greatest driver of loyalty – and of disloyalty.  And you can’t solve them without empathy.

Here are eight ways to help build empathy in your company. Add your own in the comments! Read more