Building Customer Empathy: An Interview with Natalie Schneider

Anthem, Inc. is in the middle of customer experience (CX) resurgence. I had the chance to catch up with Natalie Schneider, VP of Customer Experience, to learn more about their efforts to help build customer empathy in their employees.

Tell us a little about what led you to start working on customer experience.

A few years ago we at Anthem realized that our company’s growth was going to have to start coming from consumers—a B2C approach, rather than what we had been doing, which was largely B2B. Once we saw that, we quickly realized that our B2C operations were completely unsatisfactory—it was a kind of “OMG” moment for us, and so we started really investing in customer experience and putting together a team to try to fix what we were lacking.

We had a lot to learn—we hadn’t been looking at things from the customer’s perspective at all, and had a very insular, inside-out perspective. To buy a product on our website the customer had to go through 22 clicks! But we moved the needle. When we started, there were probably fewer than ten associates who even knew what the term Net Promoter Score even meant—three years later and we’ve improved our NPS by double digits, and business leaders talk about it constantly, across the company.

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The Value of Customer Relationship Management: An Interview With Dawn Mergenthaler

Dawn Mergenthaler has been leading CRM marketing teams for healthcare, retail, and Software-as-a-Service companies for over a decade. She works closely with customer experience (CX) professionals to understand the insights gained that can be leveraged for CRM. She’s well-known for partnering cross-functionally to improve the customer’s communication experience across an organization, ultimately working to improve customer experiences and increase sales for an organization.

We caught up with Dawn to provide her insights into how CRM and CX best fit together in an organization.

CRM can mean different things to different organizations. To start off, could you give us a quick explanation how you describe CRM?

Sure. It stands for Customer Relationship Management, and like customer experience, it’s a strategy. CRM uses different initiatives and methodologies than CX to achieve the goals of improving customer experience and increasing sales.

Similar to CX, it involves collecting customer information and data that’s used in a variety of functional areas across an organization to provide a cohesive customer experience. Read more

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

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

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

Q&A with Customer Journey Management Experts

microphone-367581_640In preparation for a series of classes on journey mapping I helped lead through the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), they interviewed a few of us on best practices in journey mapping. The other participants included a few of our partners: Stacy Bolger, Senior Strategic Consulting Director, MaritzCX; Valerie Peck, President/CEO, East Bay Services Group, SuiteCX; and Peter Haid, Director, Touchpoint Dashboard.

It’s a good overview of journey mapping best practices, bringing in a variety of opinions. Enjoy!

http://www.cxpa.org/blogs/karl-sharicz/2016/10/04/qa-with-customer-journey-management-experts-the-entire-series

Guest Post: We Hold These Truths: Implementing CX Governance

1JFMNQLRE8This guest post comes from Darin Byrne, Senior Director of Professional Services at Wolters Kluwer.

As the summer goes on and the Fourth of July approaches, I’ve found myself thinking once again about the principles that our nation was founded upon. I am reminded that the signing of a document, even one as revered as the Declaration of Independence, was such a decisive point in our history – actually in the history of the world. And I’ve been pondering even more broadly about all of our governing documents, from the Magna Carta to the Constitution: how they came about and how they still affect us today. We agreed amongst ourselves what our goals were, how we would operate as a country, the checks and balances we would put in place to achieve our goals, and then we wrote them down and implemented them, and – even more amazing – we continue to adhere to them today. It really is pretty amazing.

And that, of course, got me thinking about what I do every day. Because, much as we might like it to be true, a bunch of people don’t just show up to work and decide individually what they’re going to do all day—we need guidance in the way of a set of goals and principles. And while a so-called “benevolent dictator” might rule in some companies, the truth is that this is not a sustainable model for a business. In order to achieve your company goals, you have to have guiding principles, an overriding plan, and people to maintain and carry out that plan—that is, governance. Read more

Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers: Interviews with CX Professionals

Aiming for the Hearts of their CustomersOver the course of this blog I’ve interviewed a number of Customer Experience executives, working every day to improve their experience to increase loyalty. Customer Experience is still an emerging field, and these interviews gave me a great chance to hear others’ perspectives on the field, what it’s doing right, and where we can improve in understanding the customer and acting upon those insights.

I’ve gathered these interviews into a PDF for easy reading, which is attached to this post for you to download and enjoy:

Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers

Interview with DST Health Solutions CXO Lisa Crymes: Creating a Multi-Layered Customer Advisory Board Approach

Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) are a terrific way to get consistent customer feedback, and are particularly popular with B2B firms. An effective CAB strategy allows you to stay in tune with what your customers need, and also gives you a forum for bouncing off ideas before they get too far down the road, providing an early warning before investment into a misaligned idea is too high.

One challenge to a CAB is its make-up. Does your CAB include senior leaders or day-to-day contacts? Do you focus on strategic advice or instead measure how you’re doing? DST Health Solutions looks at these options and says “Yes” to all of them, by building a multi-layered approach to CABs. Read more

John Deere – not your father’s tractor company

John Deere PresentationI was interested in seeing Erin Wallace’s presentation at last week’s CXPA Insights Exchange, but I had no idea just how cool it would be. Her presentation was titled “Easier Said than Done: Move the Needle with Your Customer Experience Strategy,” and showed a very comprehensive approach towards customer experience that we can all learn from.

When I work with clients, I tell them there are 3+2 areas you need to focus on to develop a world-class customer experience program. The first three are an identified leader, as shared vision and governance. Erin nailed all three. She’s obviously the leader of the effort, so didn’t spend a lot of time there. But the strategy and governance were critical.

One difference between John Deere and many companies is their longevity. They’re not just out to win your loyalty today – they want to win your grandchildren’s loyalty. Erin quickly summed up this strategy when she said, “Our goal is to earn customers for generations.” They clearly didn’t just take an Amazon or Zappos strategy and go with it – this is unique to John Deere, and this strategy is critical to their entire program.  Read more