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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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

What Would Fidelity Do? – Leverage Your Customer-Facing Staff

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelGreat companies base their capabilities off of the knowledge of their customer-facing staff. While they use market research and strategic planning, companies with a consistently great customer experience get that way by creating deliberate processes to learn from their employees.

Leveraging Your Customer-Facing Staff to create Employee-Based Innovation is the last piece of the Customer-Based Capabilities section of the Heart of the Customer model. Citrix, Oracle and Safelite all referenced practices to gather insights from their employees, but Fidelity again provides the best guidance. Read more

Real-World Stories of Creating the Metrics that Matter

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelThis week we continue to analyze the Temkin Group’s finalists for their 2012 Customer Experience Excellence Award to learn how they build Customer Intelligence.

Whereas last week I outlined how the companies bring their customers to life for their employees. This week I delve into determining the Metrics that Matter – the second component of Customer Intelligence.

I wrote before about how The Perfect Customer Experience Score is not universal – it varies for each company. Great organizations do not just plug in the Net Promoter Score or satisfaction because they heard they’re great measurements – they take the time to discover whether the scores actually predict important outcomes such as client loyalty. NPS may or may not be the right score. Superior companies test to see if improving NPS improves their customers’ loyalty. If not, then NPS is not a Metric that Matters for your company. Read more

Real-World Stories of Creating Customer Intelligence

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelHow do Temkin Customer Experience finalists Bombadier Aircrafts, Citrix, Fidelity, Oracle and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan create the Customer Intelligence that feeds their customer experience programs?

The first stage of creating a world-class customer experience is Customer Intelligence – a 360 degree view that brings your customers to life for employees from front-line staff to executives.

I outlined some ways to build Customer Intelligence in this post. I recently ran across a gold mine of examples, courtesy of the Temkin Group. On Customer Experience Day they offered for free the submissions of their 11 finalists for their 2012 Customer Experience Excellence Award. Read more

How to understand your customers better, from Customer Psychology

Gareth at Customer Psychology had an interesting post.  He took my post of two weeks ago (“Customer Intelligence: Bring Your Customers to Life for Your Employees“) and extended it.

The original post is at, but I’ve also reproduced it below.  Thanks, Gareth!

How to Understand your Customers Better

We’re staying on our external customer focus this week, but in a slight change I’m linking to a blog by someone else: Jim Tincher who writes the excellent Heart of the Customer. As regulars here will know my approach is combining customer and employee engagement, which is mirrored in Jim’s own focus. Therefore I shall borrow some of his wisdom.

So today I’m linking to his post ‘Customer Intelligence’ and adding a few thoughts of my own. In this post Jim discusses five key actions that you can take to bring your customers to life. I’m going to pick up on two of these and add some thoughts of my own. Read more

Logitech: Sometimes Automation isn’t Your Friend

I received this email today.  While this is a B2C example, I think we can all see the risks inherent to any of our businesses.  I did not edit this email at all, outside of deleting the reference number.

Hi Jim,
This is <agent first name>, from The Logitech Customer Care Team.
How’s everything going, Jim?  We have sent a response and we haven’t heard back anything from you. We just want to make sure that we were able to address your concerns before the system automatically tag your case as closed.
Is there anything else I can help you with? If your issue has not been resolved, please do not hesitate to update me.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to visit our website at  or reply to this e-mail.
This is your support reference number: [reference number].
Thank you for choosing Logitech and have a wonderful day.
Sincerely Yours,
<agent first name>
Logitech Customer Care Inc.

Now, this wasn’t the most personal email I’ve ever received.  Especially since this is the third time I have received this exact email from a tech!

Scripts are useful, and they help ensure consistent service.  But over-reliance on them really doesn’t help. Using the exact same message coming three times shows you are inauthentic, let alone signing off as <agent first name>!

Have a great holiday weekend!

<customer experience blogger>

Sometimes, Customer Experience is Hard

Rite-Aid Wellness Discount for Snickers

I’m on my annual sabbatical to Maine, where my family spends a week at the cabin then a week exploring the coast.  I have seen a number of questionable customer experiences here, but two stand out.

First, a visit to Rite-Aid, the regional pharmacy chain.  Like many retailers, Rite-Aid has a loyalty card – in their case, it is named a Wellness+ card.  So far, so good.  Except that they apparently their governance is lacking, since last week the loyalty discount is applied to Snickers!

Rite-Aid_WellnessIf you call your program a Wellness+ card, you need to have the discipline to apply it to items that actually improve wellness.  I realize this could fall under the +, but that’s taking it a bit far.

The second item: It was my birthday yesterday, and the local radio station sent an email wishing me a happy birthday, including a promotion.  Again, nothing wrong with that – except the email was addressed to “FirstName!”

Kool 108 Email

Sending a birthday message is a great way to build customer intimacy.  But only if you do it right.  This message is the opposite of intimacy.

You need to take the time to test your messages – and don’t send them until they’re right.

Your takeaway:  We all have loyalty programs that are designed to improve our customer experience.  But if you do not have the discipline to think through the implications and test them, they can actually detract from, rather than add to, your customer experience.

Guest Post: Your chance to help a Millennial CX Advocate

Today’s guest post is from blog reader Samantha Klein.  Samantha had a terrific customer experience that has inspired her. Read on for more details!


After being told by Apple and TekServe that I would have to pay $800 for them to repair my laptop (it accidentally drank a can of Diet Coke…), I decided to give it one more shot as I walked by a local mom & pop shop, Mike’s Tech Shop, a few blocks from my apartment. Not only did the folks at Mike’s Tech Shop fix my laptop for free after spending 15 minutes speaking with me and running diagnostics on my sick laptop, but they then proceeded to inform me that I was their 10,000th customer and proceeded to make me feel like a total celebrity!!

Inspired by this exceptional personalized customer service at a small local shop, along with my passion for constantly assessing and researching the customer experience, I decided it was time for me to take action on changing the future of retail by applying to The Millennial Train Project, a crowdfunded cross-country full of change-making Millennials.

MTP is a non-profit organization that will lead a crowd-funded transcontinental train journey this coming August to empower diverse groups of passionate, enterprising and civic-minded Millennials to advance a project that benefits, serves, and inspires others.

My mission is to help customers identify those unique retailers in different cities who provide exceptional customer service and to provide brick & mortar retailers with proof that customer service is critical to their survival and success.

I plan to visit local stores at each of the 10 stops along the journey to personally experience and then review their customer service in depth. I will post my reviews online on a website I will create,, where others will be able to read and post their own comments, reviews and opinions, much as Zagat does for restaurants, for everyone, including retailers, to share.

I need to raise a minimum of $5,000 to get my project funded, and every dollar toward that goal is greatly appreciated.

Please check out my project at the following link and help me get on board the Millennial Train!

Organization: LF USA


What a Ramen Noodle Shop Can Teach You About Customer Experience


Do you celebrate your best staff?  And do you do it publicly? Here’s a group that serves as a great model.

We always drive to the family cabin in Maine.  This year we stopped by Toronto on our way home, and I let my daughter Becca determine our itinerary for our half-day visit.  Becca has loved travel since the day she was born, so naturally she chose to take us to Chinatown.  As we wandered around we found this fantastic Japanese Ramen restaurant, Ajisen Ramen.  I highly recommend  a visit, as both the food and staff were excellent. But this isn’t a travel or restaurant blog.  What can we learn about customer experience that can apply to call center managers, grocery store leaders, travel agents or other customer experience pros?

What struck me most was Ajisen’s approach to their customer satisfaction survey.  Rather than asking a 5-, 7-, 10- or 11-point rating of satisfaction, loyalty, likelihood to recommend, etc., they do something different. Instead, they ask you to vote for the Best of the Best among their staff.  Check out their questionnaire.  They also promote the program through the poster at the entrance to the restaurant.

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