Customer Experience

Customer Experience Strategy and Planning

It is widely cited that attention customer experience is lacking in most organizations. This barrier stifles potential and can greatly harm the health of your business. Implementing customer experience planning and customer experience strategy can greatly increase your ROI.By putting the customer at the core of your business, you will create immense opportunity for growth and development. But how should you go about planning and carrying out these changes? Below, you can learn straight from CX industry professionals about the skills, tools, and resources you need in order to plan an effective strategy that will drive customer satisfaction and the overall success of your business.

Guest Post: Personal Touches Make Great Online Customer Experiences

Today we have a guest post by Andrew, the Marketing Manager at GoInstant:

For all the great stuff that the internet can do, building a personal connection is much easier in person. Go to a shoe store, a car dealership, or even a McDonald’s, and you’ll notice that the human touch matters. To create great customer experiences, offline stores have learned how to cultivate strong personal connections with their customers. It’s how they provide value in a world where they can’t compete with Amazon on price. Whether it’s a smile at the cash register, or a calendar from your real estate agent, they know that great customer experiences need a bit of wonder in them. If they can provide that bit of wonder through a personal connection, loyal customers will keep coming back.

A new generation of e-commerce companies is realizing that they can also make strong personal connections with their customers. By using those connections to build unforgettable customer experiences – ones that only offline businesses had been capable of in the past – they’re competing with much more established e-commerce companies, like Amazon and Zappos, who haven’t seized on the importance of building personal connections. In other words, incredible customer service isn’t enough today. You need a more personal, human connection with your customer in order to really make their experience a great one. Read more

Customer Experience Irony

I attended a webinar today titled Understanding the Voice of the Customer: How to Effectively Gather and Leverage Customer Insight from Multiple Channels to Enhance the Customer Experience. I’m obviously all about both Voice of the Customer and the Customer Experience. But they immediately lost me when the presentation began with:

UnderstandingVOC-FirstPage Read more

Does your satisfaction survey show disrespect for customers

Note: This article was originally posted in 2012. Best Buy no longer uses this survey, but this poor design is still used by companies who insist on extra-long surveys.

How do you know when a company’s on the ropes?  Some observers watch cash flow.  Others look at turnover.  Me?  I look at how a company treats its customers.  When a company’s customer experience starts to drop, it’s time to sell the stock. I’m afraid that may have happened at Best Buy, especially when I look at their new customer satisfaction survey.

Customer satisfaction surveys are critical for creating your customer experience.  A great survey puts your customer at the center of your customer experience design, allowing you to learn and improve as you go.  But this only works when you design the survey from a perspective of customer respect.  When your customer satisfaction survey design assumes your customers aren’t paying attention to the survey, then why bother?  In the past, Best Buy’s culture was centered on the customer experience. But their recent update to their customer satisfaction survey shows that at least one group thinks their customers are unworthy of respect. Read more

Excerpts from “From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement”

Last month I had the opportunity to give the keynote speech at MindSurfFrom People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement.  This 4-minute video gives some of the highlights.  Read below for more information.

httpv://youtu.be/f6i7ky0mWNM

The description:  Employee Engagement is not just a feel-good program. Companies are seeing significant productivity and profitability gains through building a culture of engaged employees, as reported by Gallup, Towers-Perrin, Hay Group and others. The worst economic downturn in decades left many employees afraid to leave their jobs. Now that the economy is loosening up, experts warn we may see increasing turnover as employees leave for greener pastures. How will you keep your best people? This session will focus on best practices to engage employees, including the ROI of engagement and how you can get started at your company tomorrow.

The Three Keys to Great Employee Engagement:

  1. Point to a clear direction
  2. Develop your coaches
  3. Let your employees find the way

Learn more in, “From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement!”  Contact Jim at Heart of the Customer to learn more about how he can help you improve your employee engagement.  Or visit here to see another sample video and more speaker information.

Your Customer Experience Infrastructure is Crumbling

Is this your boss?We are facing a management crisis.  And our customers and employees are paying the price.

The mantra over the last 20 years, but particularly during the Great Recession, has been “Do More with Less.”  Financial pressures have led to gutting anything that doesn’t show a direct return, from business investments to labor in retail stores.  But as documented in my white paper, what looks good for 3 months ends up with long-term consequences.

Management is another casualty.  Reorganizations and management shake-ups are a regular occurrence.  The role of a professional manager who has the time to develop her people is a relic of the past.  And that’s negatively impacting both our employees and our customers.

Read more

Customer Experience begins with a clear strategy

Do you have a clear direction?

Asked differently: If I ask three members of your team to give me your customer experience strategy, will I get the same answer?  If the answer is yes, you have an unusual level of clarity – congratulations!  If not…

Fifteen years ago I was tasked to create a new business practice at ExecuTrain – providing training to IT professionals.  I laid out a clear strategy, telling my team how we were going to be first to market to beat the competition by offering classes that they didn’t yet have.  My team was excited about the opportunity.  That is, until that evening at our all staff meeting.  That’s when our CEO introduced our program to the company and told the staff that our strategy was to be fast followers.  We would let the competition try all the new classes, and we’d follow up with those that were successful.

Clearly, the team was confused.  Which was it?  In this case, they had two different leaders with opposite directions.  Which was correct? It’s like they were in a boat with kids that each tried to go in a different direction.  And we went nowhere fast! Read more

What a Ramen Noodle Shop Can Teach You About Customer Experience

Do you celebrate your best staff?  And do you do it publicly? Here’s a group that serves as a great model.

We always drive to the family cabin in Maine.  This year we stopped by Toronto on our way home, and I let my daughter Becca determine our itinerary for our half-day visit.  Becca has loved travel since the day she was born, so naturally she chose to take us to Chinatown.  As we wandered around we found this fantastic Japanese Ramen restaurant, Ajisen Ramen.  I highly recommend  a visit, as both the food and staff were excellent. But this isn’t a travel or restaurant blog.  What can we learn about customer experience that can apply to call center managers, grocery store leaders, travel agents or other customer experience pros?

What struck me most was Ajisen’s approach to their customer satisfaction survey.  Rather than asking a 5-, 7-, 10- or 11-point rating of satisfaction, loyalty, likelihood to recommend, etc., they do something different. Instead, they ask you to vote for the Best of the Best among their staff.  Check out their questionnaire.  They also promote the program through the poster at the entrance to the restaurant.

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Join Jim at Mindsurf!

I’m pleased to announce that I will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Mindsurf conference.  Join me as we discuss From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement.

We will walk through not only the business case, but also three very concrete steps that you can take to improve employee engagement at your organization.  The official description:

Employee Engagement is not just a feel-good program. Companies are seeing significant productivity and profitability gains through building a culture of engaged employees, as reported by Gallup, Towers-Perrin, Hay Group and others. The worst economic downturn in decades left many employees afraid to leave their jobs. Now that the economy is loosening up, experts warn we may see increasing turnover as employees leave for greener pastures. How will you keep your best people? This session will focus on best practices to engage employees, including the ROI of engagement and how you can get started at your company tomorrow.

I hope to see you there!

Walgreen’s Nails the Pharmacy Customer Experience

I’m not a big fan of ordering prescription medications – and I know I’m not alone. I’ve traditionally used mail order, but as I often forget to reorder in time, I frequently run out.  Also, since I change insurance every few years, I keep having to start over and fill out another form and get another prescription from my doctor.  Too much work.  But it’s been cheap enough that I keep trying to do it.

But those days are over.  Walgreen’s has made me a fan of using my local pharmacy, by offering good pricing with an excellent customer experience.

First of all is the price.  This is mail order’s strategic benefit, but Walgreen’s (and others) now level the playing field through competitive generics pricing.  But it’s the customer experience that separates them.  Walgreen’s has made three changes to really streamline the experience. Read more

Can technology create customer delight?

Bob Thompson at CustomerThink posed this question at his blog, asking 18 Customer Experience leaders (including yours truly) to comment on the topic.  It’s an interesting read.

My response was off-the-cuff, and less formal than a typical post:

Wow – that is a tough one. I agree with your research – it’s interactions with humans that create the greatest delight (or, for that matter, frustration!). Where technology seems to make the greatest impact is when it enables or improves the person-to-person relationship.

I’m “thinking out loud,” but it seems that most effective technology implementations either improve a human being’s access to data (e.g., a really good system at a hotel), or allows a transaction to occur more quickly by avoiding a person (self-service systems). There are some obvious exceptions, like Amazon, but most of those have been written to death.

Loyalty programs were considered a great example of this in their earlier days. But we’re starting to see that loyalty programs don’t build emotional loyalty – they just trap a consumer. In my interviews, consulting, etc., it always comes down to the human element. So I’m not sure that I’m a lot of help in what you’re hoping to accomplish!

I guess my POV is that technology allows your transactions to occur more easily and quickly for customers. This in itself does not enable delight, except that it frees up your staff to focus on the higher-leverage points, which does create delight.

In general, there seemed to be two paths of responses.  More service-oriented bloggers (such as Annette Franz Gleneicki, Bruce Tempkin and myself) focused on the ability of technology to enable delight – but primarily when partnered with a human being.  Others (such as Chip Bell and Leigh Durst) focused on products that delight through technology.

What are your thoughts?  What is the role of technology?  You can see the entire post here.