Photos from Journey Mapping Workshop

I had the opportunity to lead at yesterday’s Minnesota Government IT Symposium.  The topic was Journey Mapping Workshop: Reduce User and Customer Effort and Increase Satisfaction, and we had a great time creating maps of various customer journeys. Just check out the proud groups with their Customer-Centric Change Charters!

Participants went through an interactive form of Customer Journey Mapping Made Easy, where they learned how to create a journey map, as well as the importance of including actual customers in your research.

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man having poor customer service

Training Customers = Losing

iStock_000024086772XXLarge“Customers aren’t filling out our form completely. We need to train them to fill it all out, and then we’ll be able to serve them better.”

“Our members just don’t understand the benefits of volunteering. If we educate them better, more will volunteer.”

“We just need to teach our customers how to use our website so they won’t call us so much.”

“If we can teach people trying to get their licenses that it’s okay to wait hours on end in really uncomfortable seats before talking to soul-dead, disengaged employees who are just waiting until 5:00 so that they can go home, everything would be much better.”


These are all actual quotes from employees we’ve worked with while leading customer experience workshops. Okay, I made the last one up (it’s been a bad week at the DMV).  But the other three are real.

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Microsoft: Customer Experience (finally) wins over an entrapment “strategy”

office365logoorange_webDo you trap your customers?  Do you try to force customers who use one product to use another?  Microsoft certainly has a reputation for entrapment. Get you in and trap you in our system. And it looked like this was going to be another of those stories.

I recently installed Office 365 on my iPad.  I loaded it up, but couldn’t figure out how to access my Dropbox files. I use Dropbox for everything.

So, frustrated, I turned to Google, and found out that this was deliberate. Read more

customer service letter

The future of surveys? Maybe no surveys at all

scan0002Ending the tale of being rear-ended, I found another great lesson. Geico took care of my car, having ABRA Auto Body put on a brand-new bumper. As I checked out, ABRA gave me a document to “help” me fill out my survey. Yes, they told me exactly how I should fill out my questions!

Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise me. We’ve all heard of car salespeople, retail employees and restaurant staff who game the system. But to actually create a document telling me how to fill out the scores was a new one!

Now combine gaming with survey fatigue. So many of us are becoming customer-obsessed, that we each send out more and more surveys. Each individual survey isn’t bad, but I can no longer go through a day without at least one survey request. Our local paper had a great column talking about the survey experience here.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about the post-survey world.  What would you do if you could never use a 10-point scale again? Read more

It only takes 3 seconds to destroy your service experience

The beginning of a service experience matters. A lot. Start successfully, and you can make it a great experience. Start wrong, and you can dig a hole you can’t get out of.

I mentioned my car accident last week. Luckily, it wasn’t bad, but the agent didn’t know that. That’s how she began our conversation. I told her that I was at the site of an accident. Instead of asking if I’m okay, she was right down to business, asking me about what I want to do. It was just another call in a long series of them for her.

Just like that, there was no chance to engage me. She would have been just as effective if she hung up.

Her approach might not matter in a rational world. But I don’t live in that world. And neither do you. But it seems that some people haven’t gotten that message, designing experiences based on the assumption that we’re all rational.

What to Do?

How else to explain health plans that allow you to choose your own pricing, then are surprised when everyone chooses the low-premium, low coverage option. I actually worked with a health savings account organization who believed (and still does) that consumers want to select between different pricing plans. Despite the fact that literally 98.5% of their consumers didn’t. They felt they just needed more education.

Bad design is everywhere in the world of websites. My “favorites” are websites that require convoluted logins I can’t remember, or password schemes that can’t end with a number or symbol. I know a rational person wouldn’t care about this limit. But a real person does.

That’s one of the reasons I love journey mapping so. Effective journey maps uncover the emotions in a customer experience, clearly visualizing those friction points that interfere with customer engagement. An effective journey map clearly shows your customer’s emotions, revealing the friction points that are costing you customers.

Apparently, the folks over at Software Advice, a consulting company for customer support software, share my passion for understanding the emotions in our experiences. They conducted a survey to understand customers’ preferred type of communication. The article ends with a clear call to action.  While a casual tone works well in neutral or positive experiences, a formal tone is absolutely necessary when denying requests.

So think about the tone in your service experiences. And give yourself a chance to get past your first three seconds.

“It’s up to you” – Choices can ruin your customer experience

20141016_170140Choices make or break your customer experience. Design them well and they make life easier on your customers. But leave them to chance and they can drag down your customer experience.

I’m teaching a series of customer experience workshops for an insurance company. We were looking for an example to bring it all together. So, being a good partner, I went out and got rear-ended. Now I have a great story. (Note to my insurance company: it really wasn’t deliberate!)   Read more

Thinking is bad

iStock_000024086772XXLargeOne impact of being in a new capability is trying to describe it. My wife doesn’t really know what I do, so how can I effectively communicate customer experience to somebody who’s never heard of it? This is a common topic among my CX friends. How do we explain what we do to others?

If they don’t give me a blank look, most folks hear customer experience and ask, “So, you work in a call center?” After stifling a groan, I go through the standard explanation that customer experience is broader than just service, and how a great customer experience often prevents the needs for a service call in the first place. I explored the difference between customer service and experience in this post about Target’s data breach.

But as my friend Mara Bain says, “When you’re explaining, you’re losing.” So I’ve been looking for a quicker way to grab somebody’s attention. Here’s what I’ve tried:

“I prevent customers from having to think.”

It’s still new, but so far it seems to make people curious enough to listen to the rest of the story. And it clearly differentiates between customer experience and service. Read more

When loyalty programs go too far

Is it just me, or is it getting harder and harder to pay for items?

It seems that the rise of loyalty programs has extended the checkout process in all types of activities.  I used to swipe my card, choose the fuel type, and start filling my car.  Now I swipe my card, choose credit, enter in my zip code, say no to the car wash, no to the receipt, no to the loyalty program, then choose fuel type.

You can almost picture the business cases at the corporate headquarters.  “If we just add this one more prompt, we can add on an extra 10 cents of margin per transaction.”

Now don’t get me wrong. In a low-margin business like gas stations, adding 10 cents of margin is real money.  But since my local gas station subscribes to this “let’s add 5 questions to the transaction” approach, I find myself using the one a mile away more often – just to avoid the hassle. It’s not just gas stations. Blogs (not this one!) require answering 10 questions to get white papers and retailers add loyalty questions.  How much business is lost due to hassle factor?

Jimmy Fallon had a great send-up on CVS’s checkout in the following clip. Watch it, and check whether you’re playing the same game. Read more

Target shows the difference between customer experience and customer service.

A recurring theme among my customer experience friends and clients is the frequent confusion between customer experience and customer service.  We explored this theme in several of my recent interviews, with two particularly good examples:

  • “Customer service is about 5-6 percent of the customer experience. The only time service really matters regarding the long-term loyalty of a customer is when it goes wrong.” Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer Experience Officer  at Prime Therapeutics
  • “Customer service is a person-to-person interaction. Customer experience extends to every interaction with your brand,” Mara Bain, Chief Experience Officer, Western National Insurance.

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Four Trends Changing the Customer Experience Movement

Our Customer Experience capability is growing!  In the last two months the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has added about 300 members, with four new sites hosting local events.  Here in Minneapolis we hosted a great session to discuss Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Model, and how members are helping their companies move up the model.

As with any movement, this growth is leading to maturity and change.  Here are four trends I am seeing impact our practice today:

  • Customer Experience is moving beyond just NPS
  • Increasing recognition on the role of employee engagement
  • Customer Journey Mapping 2.0
  • Emerging Comprehension of Customers’ Non-Rational Thinking

Customer Measurement is Moving Beyond Just NPS

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is still the cornerstone of many customer experience programs.  What is changing is that companies are moving beyond the notion of using just one number, surrounding it with other factors, including satisfaction (yes, it’s still popular for many), loyalty, and the Customer Effort Score.

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