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

Turning “Little Data” into Big Productivity Gains

hotc imageThere’s been a ton of talk about “big data.” And rightly so. Big data has the potential to completely change how you treat customers based on a better understanding of their behaviors. It’s a great capability, and you should definitely look into it.

But this blog isn’t about contact center big data. Instead, it’s about contact center little data.

Read more

Put an End to Customer Frustration and Build Real Loyalty


I was talking with a call center manager who made a startling comment: “We have some problems with our website. But we deliberately don’t fix them. That way, our customers call us and we can fix their problems and delight them.”

Wow. This was one of those situations where I wasn’t really sure how to react. Who really believes that’s a good thing?

The myth of the Service Recovery Paradox is apparently alive and well. This is the belief that when you do a great job fixing customer problems, they become more loyal than they were before they called. It’s a reassuring belief. At call centers we spend so much time resolving problems that we want to believe that we’re building loyalty. But maybe a better way to view it is that we’re saving loyalty. Read more

Using Customer Experience-Savvy to Improve Your Candidate Experience

CM9Na_gWsAEXVLXHere’s a Q&A I did recently with Recruiting Social, who asked me to talk about using CX in the hiring process to improve candidate experience.

Why should the candidate experience matter to employers?

If the goal is to get the best talent, yet you make people go through really hard and opaque application and recruitment processes, you’re automatically removing potential candidates. You don’t know who they are. You don’t know if you are chasing away the people who are just not interested, or if you’re chasing away the best talent.

Is the applicant willing to reformat their resume so it’s easier for you to use and search? Maybe resumes disappear into a black box and applicants never hear anything back and never get any feedback. Does a potential applicant want to go through an experience like that? It’s very easy to get into the mindset that, “If this candidate doesn’t like a process, we’ll find another candidate.” I’ve actually heard from recruiters in the past that were getting too many job applications, so they deliberately decided to not make the process easy, so they could weed out some of the applicants. Well, doing that you’re probably weeding out the wrong ones.

Not caring about the experience degrades the quality of candidates, because they know that you are not serious about hiring the best talent. Read more

Webinar: Drive Growth by Reducing Customer Effort

Blog Post BannerNow more than ever, customers are demanding top-notch service. In an age when there are options upon options for any service they could require, customers are taking full advantage of that fact: when they aren’t satisfied with the service they receive at a company, they simply bring their business to another. After a poor service experience, 71% end their relationship with that company, and most of them—61%—choose a competitor to go to.

Customer service is a key component of the customer experience, having a disproportionate impact on a customer’s loyalty. A company that offers differentiated service will retain loyal customers. But what does differentiated service entail? According to a study by Bain, 80% of companies feel that they offer superior customer service—but only eight percent of customers agree.

Common customer service practices, such as service calls, can seem to exemplify quality customer service to the company that provides it. In fact, service calls are nearly four times as likely to decrease loyalty as to increase loyalty, and as this shows, companies are often in the dark when it comes to what customers themselves want from their customer service.

How to Combat This?

When it comes to loyalty, it’s been shown that reducing customer effort and offering a seamless experience works best. Designs and options that are intuitive for a customer to navigate encourage customers to return to the companies that provide the kind of service they can understand and connect to.

BT’s research found that their customers who rated their service experience as “easy” showed a 40% reduction in their propensity to churn. Improving your customer service can show dramatic increases in growth. Increasing customer loyalty by just five percent leads to a profitability growth of 25-90% making superior customer service but important to a company’s growth and profitability.

So, how can you make it easier for your customers? I’ll address this in an upcoming webinar. I’ll be joining Talkdesk on Wednesday, August 19 for a webinar that will dive into these questions. You can register here.

Reduce effort > Giving refunds

customer-compliantsWhat do you do with an unhappy customer? Refunds are the easy way out. They don’t fix the problem. They just put a band-aid on the situation, without addressing the underlying problem that led your busy customer to take time to call you.

But don’t take my word for it. A report from Beyond Philosophy entitled The Customer Complaints X-Ray uses a survey of 1015 respondents in Europe and the USA to study which made more of a difference in loyalty – the outcome of the complaint, or the way it was handled. (The full report isn’t available without joining, but you can get a summary on their website.) What did they find?

The first question is: what drives a customer’s likelihood to continue doing business with you? Is it the outcome (getting a refund, resolving the problem, etc.) or the way the complaint is handled? Read more

Refunds are for cowards

No-refund-online-legal-serviceTuesday I had a major issue with my host provider Inmotion Hosting. I discovered that my beautiful new site no longer looked so beautiful, instead offering searches for heart valves and similar terms. Obviously, they were no longer hosting my domain.

I immediately called support, and my tech acknowledged their systems did not execute my domain renewal. He emailed their hosting provider and told me I’d be fixed within 24-48 hours. I had a focus group to attend, so hung up and asked to have a supervisor call me. After a few hours with no call I called back. This tech understood my urgency and had the problem resolved within 20 minutes.

On thing that’s interesting is that Inmotion Hosting doesn’t do surveys. Instead, they send an automated email from the tech asking me to email the supervisor if I had great service.


Oh, I emailed the supervisor. I told her my tech was great, but that this was a mess. It’s their job to discover when they mistakenly fail to renew a domain, not mine. That’s customer experience 101 – reduce your customer’s effort.

I wish I could say she understood the problem and called me back as I requested. Instead, the next thing I saw was a refund “as I requested” for the $11.99 domain registration fee with no explanation.

Yippee! That certainly made up for my website and email being down for 4-6 hours! Read more

Journey Mapping: Interview with Annette Franz

Annette FranzAs part of the launch of our new website, I’m interviewing Annette Franz, author of the popular Customer Experience (CX) blog CX Journey. In addition to her blog, Annette and I volunteer together as CX Experts at the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). We’re discussing all things journey mapping.

Jim: So Annette, let’s start.  You’ve written a lot about journey mapping, even naming your blog CX Journey.  So why do you feel that journey mapping is such an important topic?

Annette: One of the main reasons journey mapping is such an important topic is that it really sheds light on the customer experience the way it ought to be shed, from the customer’s perspective. A journey map really brings the customer experience to life, allowing people in the company to really understand what customers are going through, what their interactions are, and to create that empathy that we are talking about so much lately, that’s so important to creating a great customer experience. Read more

Customer Effort Score 2 – Is it easy?

Loyalty impact of support callsEffort is the bane of your customer experience. Or, as I like to say, “Thinking is bad.” But is customer effort the right measurement to use?

First, an overview. The CEB created the Customer Effort Score (CES) as a transactional measurement. You can see my early post here. Its original phrasing was “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” and a lot of blogs still point to this confusing phrase. Luckily, the CEB reworded it to “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue” in the CES 2.0.

Unfortunately, they haven’t taken the next step to call it the Customer Easy Score, which is much more fun to say. Read more

Webinar: Thinking is Bad

nanoRep and I recently partnered on a webinar to discuss reducing effort in your customer experience. We discuss the Customer Effort Score, simplicity, and how to use self-service to prevent customer disloyalty.  You can view a summary at—Thinking-is-Bad-Drive-Customer-Loyalty-by-Simplifying-Your-Service-Experience.  Enjoy!