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.
It started out as a conference room turned prototype room, a poster printer, a laminator, and an attempt to be fast and flexible by doing most of the work myself. We started simple: I would come up with ideas, design, print, and hang it on the wall in the prototype room, show it to my bosses, and we would talk about it. That way, building each piece collaboratively, I could throw out ideas right away that didn’t work, and build on the ones that did.
That’s why just six weeks after getting initial approval to create a room, we were in Jacksonville, Florida, ready to show it to our first group of employees. We set it up, spent a few days there, packed it up, and moved on to the next Prudential location. Each room was slightly different, and each experience was unique, but each one was set up around the same basic design.
Tell me more about the details of the room—what was inside it? How did you get people to engage with the room and the idea of CX?
To get people in the door, we used a combination of email invites, desk drops, and an exclusive invite-only executive breakfast to kick off the event at each location. Once we got them in the room, they first signed into a guestbook. This added a personal touch we always look for in CX, and it allowed us to better track how many people visited each location. Another CX trademark—anything we can find to measure, we’ll measure!
Five main sections generally flowed around the four walls of the room, which included why CX is important (and difficult), understanding our customers, journey mapping, measuring advocacy and future state vision, and how employees can get involved.
We wanted to use different methods of presenting information in order to engage people in different ways, so we used large posters on the wall, infographics, lift the flap signs, stand up banners, a rotating PowerPoint presentation of customer quotes on a projector screen, interactive iPad games, phone calls, opportunities to add to the room by putting Post-it notes with ideas on the wall, a sectioned off area where employees could videotape themselves providing an idea or story, and the presence of CX leadership stationed around the room ready to explain and engage.
Our goal wasn’t for every visitor to memorize our journey map or to be able to recite statistics on customer satisfaction—the goal was to capture the excitement around CX, and help them share and internalize that excitement.
Out of everything you included in the room, what do you think worked the best?
Probably the most well-received section was called Immersive Experiences, which provided different multi-media opportunities. Two of the iPads had choose your own adventure-type games created in PowerPoint, so the visitors could look through the customer’s eyes at what current experiences are like. There were other iPads with audio and video clips from real customers, and we set up a game show-type activity where we’d have visitors try to find simple pieces of information in customer-facing documents. It was harder than it seemed, or should be—which was exactly our point.
Do you feel like the experience of creating and showing the customer room was a success? What’s next for you?
The whole experience was incredible: we had about 1,000 people across 8 locations, across all levels of the organization, from executives to call-center employees. In post-event surveys, 98% of the visitors said visiting the room was worth their time and 99% reported they had a better understanding of why focusing on the customer experience is important. And, it was an extremely rewarding experience for those of us working the room to watch people get excited about the customer. Overall, it was definitely a success.
I’m now working on creating a digital version of the room, as well as a compact “booth” version to take to internal conferences and events. What I learned from this experience is what has become the foundation for how I approach my current culture and communications role — it’s all about finding unique and effective ways to engage, inform, and interact with employees and leaders.
It sounds like a great experience. What advice would you give to others who are interested in creating their own customer room?
I’d say, as far as building your own Customer Room, it doesn’t matter if it has the coolest poster or the most fun games. What matters is engagement: creating something that attracts attention and interaction. You could spend years trying to get a big budget or tweaking a visual or talking about what you could do. Or, you could just do it. I just did it, using what I had, which included extremely supportive and creative leaders. The Customer Room at Prudential is by far the most personally and professionally rewarding project I’ve ever worked on—largely because it got so many people engaged and excited about CX.
Jason Kapel is focused on building a customer-focused culture within Prudential Individual Life Insurance, where employees are inclined and encouraged to put the customer first, and business decisions are influenced by customer need and understanding. As the Director of Customer Experience focusing on culture and communication, Jason is working to accomplish this customer-centric vision through ongoing communication and engagement of all kinds with employees and leaders.
Jason received an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. In 2014 he became a designated Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), the 34th person in the world at that time to receive that designation. View Jason’s Linked-In profile and connect with him at: http://linkedin.com/in/jason-kapel-41a4a7a