Posts

How do you operationalize “Customers are our #1 priority”?

I recently moved to a new part of town, and the local Wendy’s has “We love customers” on their placard. My dry cleaner has the same message printed on their hangers.

Who cares?

What is the purpose of such a generic statement? Do other dry cleaners have hangers that say, “We’re really indifferent about customers, but thanks for using us”? Do they expect an emotional connection to result from this supposed outpouring of love? I guess it’s possible – but very unlikely. Read more

Use Commitment Science to Drive CX Change

At Heart of the Customer, our team is reading Influence, the classic book by Robert Cialdini. While it’s an older book, it has a ton to offer to anybody looking to build action, including in the area of customer experience (CX).

This week we’re up to Chapter 3, Commitment. Cialdini uses a ton of examples, including Chinese prison camps in Korea, fraternities, and small kids playing with toys. Through these examples, Cialdini shows how by convincing others to publicly claim their support for a specific philosophy, you are leading people to subsequently act in a manner consistent with that philosophy – even if they previously did not strongly support such a position. Read more

Fees are rational. Customers aren’t.

I love the book Nudge. It’s a great reference on how to use small actions to make big changes, discussing such domains as 401(k)s, the environment, and health care. It’s a great read that has tons of applications to any change agent.

Unfortunately, one of their principles of choice architecture is frequently misapplied – using incentives to change behavior.

I’m not referring to the area that CX leaders get to see up close – the gaming that happens when you put too much emphasis on surveys. That’s a critical issue – but for another day. No, this post is about using fees to change customer behavior. It’s a rational approach that makes a lot of sense in theory – but can create havoc when not done carefully.  Read more

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.

Read more

B2B Customers are not just Consumers 2.0

Frequent readers of this blog know that I’m into all things journey mapping, regularly reviewing articles on the subject. So I was particularly interested in How to: Create a digital customer journey map by Henning Ogberg, the senior VP EMEA of Sugar CRM. As it’s published by B2B Marketing, it’s obviously targeted towards B2B (business-to-business) audiences.

In general, it’s a great article. I especially like four of his five tips:

  • Accept that it won’t be simple. We find this is true of journey mapping in general – not just B2B. In our recent analysis, half of all journey maps weren’t successful. While we didn’t have sufficient numbers to compare B2B vs. B2C (business-to-consumer), business journey mapping is newer, so it seems likely that there would be fewer successful journey maps in this space. Business journeys are significantly more complicated than consumer journeys, since they involve more participants over a longer amount of time.
  • Capitalize on the insight and support of your team. Yes! In the post It Takes a Broad Team to Improve Customer Journeys I talk about the importance of involving a large cross-functional team in your journey mapping initiative. Not only does this provide better input to your map, it also helps to ensure your various teams are prepared to act on the results.
  • Don’t fixate on sales. I don’t often hear this advice, but I definitely agree. Focus first on understanding your customers – then look at your business opportunities.
  • Embrace the opportunity of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). This is a timely piece, since just last week we featured our interview with Dawn Mergenthaler on how to sync up CRM and CX (Customer Experience) in your organization. It’s the only way to institutionalize the insights in your organization.

As I said, I really liked four of his five tips. Read more

Your Moment of Truth

In every customer journey, some interactions matter more than others. There are certain moments that cause customers to leave you, some that potentially lead to stronger engagement, and some that cause a customer to be much more expensive to serve.

 

Moments of Truth

We call these key interactions a “Moment of Truth,” and it is one of the most important findings of customer experience research, including journey mapping. Because these moments have a disproportionate impact on long-term loyalty, you need to make them a focus of your attention.

The term Moment of Truth has been used in different ways. We trace our usage back to P&G’s work. They described product packaging as being the first moment of truth – that is, the packaging often determines whether a customer decides to purchase or not.

Moments of Truth vary between customer segments. We’ve found that Moments of Truth are disproportionately found in three stages of the journey:

* The beginning

* The end

* When hand-offs occur between silos

If the beginning goes badly, it may also be the end. In P&G’s case, a bad package could mean the customer never buys. But the end of the journey has equal, if not greater, importance. As Daniel Kahneman discovered in his Nobel Prize-winning research, the ending is one of the key determinants to how we remember the journey. This can then have a very strong impact on whether we’re willing to use this company for future journeys. The third occasion likely to see a Moment of Truth is during a hand-off, which may be rife with frustrating problems for the customer. Read more

Four steps to build an improved B2C customer experience

shopping-cart-1275480_640Serving consumers is different than serving businesses.  It’s not harder or easier – just different.  I’ve seen real challenges in the past when leaders move from B2B to B2C (or vice-versa). Here are four steps to help you get started creating a better B2C customer experience.

1. Know your customer experience (CX) goal.

I was talking with a CX leader, and asked about her customer experience vision. She responded, “We want to be the simplest, and the most flexible. Oh, and we need to keep costs low.”

That’s a pretty hard combination to hit. In fact, I’d argue it’s pretty impossible to hit all three.

Your goal should flow from your vision. Are you trying to be the easiest company to work with, the one with the closest relationships, the most flexible?  Understanding your company’s goals is the first step to creating your approach. If you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know what steps to take next.  Read more

You can’t teach employees to care

pexels-photo-29594I was presenting at a healthcare conference on the importance of managing your in-clinic experience. In the Q&A session an attendee asked, “How important is hiring versus training? If you have a front-office person who isn’t that friendly, how can you teach her to be nicer?”

Impressions are Key

It’s a great question, and one that isn’t asked nearly often enough. The front desk is critical to establishing trust in your clinic. New patients really have no idea as to how effective the clinician is. Sure, they can see the diplomas on the wall. But it’s the office – and particularly the friendliness of the front-office personnel – who help the patient decide whether or not to trust their provider.

(There’s an old joke out there. What do they call the student at the bottom of the graduating class at Harvard Medical School? Doctor.)

The front office staff provides that assurance that new patients made the right choice. A brusque person – even if he or she is really good in other parts of the business – destroys this confidence. A clinic’s perceived abilities rise or fall depending on that front-desk person. Which is why they’re sometimes called “Director of First Impressions.” Read more

Get out of your office!

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In 2008, I left Best Buy. I had been there for six years, and before that had been with a small business. So I just assumed that every company was obsessed with their customers!

Yes, I was naïve. I still am.

From there, I joined a new company. And I learned there were other approaches to running a business.

This was a division of a Fortune 100 company that was growing at an incredible rate. We had the highest market share, and we were growing at 25%. So the organization felt like they had everything going right. They were so confident that their new strategy was to become a $1 billion business.

Missing the Point

Those who have read Good to Great probably know where this is going.

When I joined the company, I was amazed to discover that nobody in marketing or product development had ever met a client!  Their sales came because the parent company sold the products. The parent company had the relationships – so our product teams were comfortable sitting in their offices making up strategy PowerPoints. Read more

Your Frontline Workforce Shouldn’t Leave Your Customers Feeling Cold

frontline-cold-6112857_s-2015Sometimes, your customers just want to feel heard.

A number of years ago, I was travelling for a job interview and booked a night at a Hampton Inn. I awoke and looked to take a shower when I discovered a problem. My room had no hot water.

I dressed and went to the front desk and explained the situation—I was getting ready for an interview and the room had no hot water—and a nearby manager ran over and said, “We’ll comp your room” – giving me the room for free. That was all well and good, but I had just explained that I was travelling for an interview, and it would have been easy to assume that I wasn’t paying for the room. Therefore not only did the comped room not matter to me practically, it also didn’t matter emotionally—it was clear that the manager didn’t listen, but instead jumped immediately to a solution. His “resolution” left me more frustrated than the original situation.

Listen, Then Speak

If you assume that all your customers want from you are free things, the policy of offering a free night’s stay is an obvious solution to any guest’s problem. However, more often than not, being given free stuff is not what a disgruntled customer wants when they contact your customer service. When I called the attendant at my Hampton Inn, I was nervous as I prepared for the interview, and what I really wanted was the desk attendant to hear what I had to say and to apologize. Read more