Does technology replace the customer experience?

From Iconoculture:

UK: “Facebook” pub serves punters with table-side technology
The Thirsty Bear pub in South London is using tablet technology to help punters order food, drink and update their social network status without leaving their table. Table-side iPads and serve-yourself beer taps enable customers to order food and drink for self- or waiter-service. To start an electronic tab, punters simply leave a credit card behind the bar in order to add to their bill. Finger clicking is no longer required to grab waiters’ attention. Connected consumers can simply text staff direct via an instant messenger app to alert them that they require table service.

This is a fascinating idea. But how long can it last? Read more

The #1 Tool to Engage Your Customers

Note:  This post was originally listed at Annette Franz’s blog at http://cxjourney.blogspot.com/.  If you aren’t subscribed to her blog, you really should consider it!

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You’ve gathered your customer insights and made the changes. Your website is streamlined and easy to use. Your add-on services are perfectly aligned with customer needs. You have invested in the finest training for your employees. Your IT upgrades ensure that your staff has up-to the-second information at their fingertips.

But somehow nothing is changing. Your sales are flat, and your customer experience scores are static. What’s wrong?

Tell me, how good are your line managers?

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The employee-customer interaction is where the magic happens in almost any service-based business. Whether renting a car, shopping for groceries or eating out, the customer-facing associate makes the difference between a ho-hum experience and one that brings you back for more. Read more

The Second Key to Creating a Great Customer-Inspired Experience: Engage the Entire Team on the Opportunity

Once you know what matters, the next step is to get everybody involved.

I have been speaking about this topic quite a bit lately, and one exercise I have is for participants to identify five recent projects or programs their company has developed to improve your customer experience. These could be new products, pricing changes, sales training programs – any new idea. Go ahead and do this, as well. Write down five new projects your company is implementing:

  1. ______________________________
  2. ______________________________
  3. ______________________________
  4. ______________________________
  5. ______________________________

Now that you have this list (you did do the exercise, didn’t you?), let’s look at your projects. Whether you work for a 50 or 50,000-person company, a good rule of thumb is that 90% of your company’s employees are individual contributors. So if your company is doing well at this key, 4-½ of these ideas should come from front-line employees. Brave readers: comment on how well you did!

Of the hundreds of attendees in my talks, how many had at least three ideas come from an individual contributor?

Four.

None came from a company of more than ten people. Only about half had even one idea come from a front-line employee.

We can do better. Companies pay consultants to tell them what to do, when they have dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of passionate employees who know far more about their customers. We need to do cast a wider net. Read more

The First Key to Creating a Great Customer-Inspired Experience

A customer-inspired experience is critical to growth. According to a Temkin Group analysis, a great customer experience increases likelihood to recommend by 19.5% and likelihood to repurchase by 18.4%. And the best way to get that inspiration is through those who talk to customers every day – your front-line employees. In this piece you will receive the first key of creating a great customer-inspired experience. Keys two and three will follow soon!

The First Key to Creating a Customer-Inspired Experience: Identify What Really Matters

This seems like a no-brainer. Companies know what matters to their customers, right?

In fact, many have it wrong. Leaders get so focused on their tangible capabilities that they no longer see through their customers’ eyes, and use their over-informed perspective to prioritize efforts. As a good example, I worked with a global fast food company to determine the best way to increase growth. This company was laser-focused on R&D – inventing the newest menu item to drive that bump in sales. They applied a very rational lens to their customer experience – if we provide good food fast and keep coming up with new items, we’ll grow.

This approach is so alluring that it is no surprise they succumbed to it. And sure enough, the company was rewarded with a spike in sales every time they came out with a new food item. So, like most companies focusing on next quarter’s results, they kept feeding the R&D beast. But despite these sales spikes, their same-restaurant sales continued to drop each year.

We identified a segment of customers who visited their restaurants more than any other. But even within this segment, we found huge discrepancies on monthly spending based on emotional engagement. Read more

Rant: Conversocial fails at customer centricity, and Chick-fil-A passes with flying colors

I received a call from Conversocial on Monday.  I downloaded a white paper entitled Who’s Ignoring Their Customers, and a fellow with a delightful English accent called from an international number to see if I was interested in their software.  He emailed me the previous Friday, and since I didn’t respond within one business day, he made a follow-up call.

Not me!

All good, with two exceptions. Read more

Innovating Through Your Front-Line Staff Speech

I’ve been speaking quite a bit lately – four times in the last week and a half – so I haven’t been able to complete the second half of my blog post “Experiment Your Way to Growth.” But you can see me speak about it below.  I come on at 2:44 into it.

The second half should be out next week!

Guest Post: Planning for a Successful Customer Experience Journey

Today is a special treat – a guest post from Annette of CX Journey.  You should definitely subscribe to her blog – a great read!

Planning for a Successful Customer Experience Journey

By Annette Franz Gleneicki

A customer experience strategy is just a strategy, a roadmap that outlines your approach to creating a customer-centric culture. Customer centricity is a way of life, a way of doing business, a journey. It’s not just a project or something to check off your “To Do” list for this week. It’s woven into the fabric of everything you do as an organization.

It takes the entire organization to successfully execute a customer experience strategy, not just the executive team, not just the frontline, and not just the CCO and her team overseeing the strategy.
Read more

Dunn Bros Coffee – the Non-Chain Chain

“Coffee houses are about neigh­bor­hoods,” Dunn Bros Coffee co-CEO Chris Eilers tells me while we drink light roasts and blues music plays overhead.

Dunn Brothers is a popular Midwestern coffee chain with most of its locations in the Twin Cities. The company was started by Ed Dunn and now boasts 83 locations. Whereas Starbucks and Caribou (another Minnesota-grown coffee shop) have primarily corporate-owned locations, Dunn Bros focuses on attracting franchisees, who typically run and work at only one location.

This interview discusses the Dunn Bros Coffee history, how they use their franchisees to develop their unique customer experience, and how the company uses market research and social networking to learn more about their customers. It concludes with an analysis on how they do in creating a customer-inspired experience, as measured through the Heart of the Customer model.

Read the interview in Dunn_Bros-the_Non-Chain_Chain-White_Paper.

Experiment Your Way to Growth

 

High-growth companies discover their opportunities differently. They certainly use strategic planning and analytics, as do most of their competitors. But at their core, they do something else.

Babson Executive Education asked companies their top method to find revenue or cost savings opportunities, then compared that to their growth rates. Whereas low-growth companies tended to favor analytics or strategic planning, over half of high-growth companies focused on experimentation, as shown in the chart on the right.

High-growth companies understand that they can spend endless time debating the latest market research and its implications. They can get teams together for strategic planning off-sites. Or they can leverage the power of their people to quickly experiment to find the best opportunities. Market research and planning are important. But it is the action implicit in experimentation that drives growth. By moving to a culture of experimentation, you can be in your third iteration of an idea before your plodding competitors move the idea out of their planning processes. Read more