Posts

Fitbit Proves Rich Emotions Can Overcome Poor Quality

Customer experience has three components: Effectiveness, Ease, and Emotion. But too often, CX programs focus only on the first two. Why? Because they’re simpler to address.

Emotion is more elusive and complicated. But it’s where true loyalty is earned (as opposed to just preventing disloyalty).

That message hit home to me when my Fitbit died…again!

I was an early adopter and have owned several Fitbits over the past decade or so. Almost all of them managed to fail shortly after the warranty expired. (Show of hands – who doesn’t love that?)

When the unit I was using  just over a year ago died, I decided to upgrade to the Versa 2 Smartwatch, hoping that the higher-end product would last a bit longer. No such luck.

Read more

Manual Contact Center Productivity Tools Aren’t Fit for the Modern Era

contact-center-productivity-tools_9816895_s-2015Here’s the story: A health insurance company came up with an innovation for their health savings accounts, allowing account holders to select among three pricing plans. This would allow their customers to select the plan that best fit their needs.

Their market research confirmed interest in the plan, so they implemented the new account types. They built the software changes, sent letters to their 400,000 account holders, and created marketing and sales plans to stimulate demand.

After a few months they wanted to check the success of the new plans. The first piece of bad news was that far fewer account holders changed their pricing than expected. But the second piece of bad news was that operational costs were through the roof, and the time it took to update a consumer’s pricing plan was much higher than expected. Worse, the time it took from requesting to actually receiving the new pricing was much longer than expected – often taking weeks.

Why the high costs and slow turnaround? Manual processes. Read more

Don’t Let Scripts Ruin a Great Customer Experience

script_customer-experience-Depositphotos_14056910_sLast week I had a computer problem that required me to contact technical support. I was sure I would have to send my computer in, but they were able to quickly solve my problem.

So why was I so annoyed? And why does this matter to you?

I started with phone support, but after hearing there would be a 13-minute wait, I fired up chat. After greeting me, the technician said, “I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” “Great!” I responded, and gave the details.

I then waited for two minutes while she was obviously working with another customer. Eventually she responded, “I’m sorry for the wait. I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” She then proceeded to apply an update to my computer, telling me a third time that she will give her best effort to resolve my issue.

While the computer was rebooting I received a call from phone support, so I switched to this mode.

That’s when this new tech said it: “I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” My customer service alarm immediately went off. Read more

Why Agent Coaching is the Key to Customer Loyalty

Agent-Coaching-Depositphotos_44165767_sMichael Jordan had Phil Jackson. Walter Payton had Mike Ditka.  Look at any great athlete, and you probably see a great coach.  But it’s not just athletes.

Former CEO Brad Anderson used multiple coaches as he drove Best Buy to new heights. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School for Business, over half of corporate senior executives are receiving some form of coaching.  Yet, it’s unfortunately all too rare for the people who directly impact your customer loyalty – your call center agents.

Now, of course managers will “coach” their teams on how to improve. But all too often these managers were taking calls themselves not that long ago.  And nobody really taught them how to be a coach.  For some organizations, it’s easier to create a training program than to try to turn their managers into coaches. Read more

Dan Arielly nails customer empathy

RadarI’m a big fan of Prof. Arielly’s work, such as the book Predictably Irrational, and subscribe to his weekly Q&A.  His response to a question this week offers great advice to us in CX who are trying to create customer empathy.

Dear Dan,

I’m an air-traffic controller at a large airport. I don’t work in the tower but in a remote radar facility about 30 miles away, handling traffic within 50 miles of the airport. As a radar controller, everything is completely abstract. Would being able to actually see the planes I am guiding take off and land generate greater job satisfaction than just seeing targets on a screen?

—Zack

Probably. In many different domains (including moral judgment and empathy), when we present information in increasingly abstract ways, emotions get suppressed, and we care less. So if you plan to stay in this type of job for a while, moving to a tower might well boost your motivation.

But even if you stay put, other changes might increase the perceived meaning of your labor. What if your screen showed how many passengers were on each plane? What if, at landing time, you were told that they were all healthy? What if you were shown some pictures of the people waiting for them at the airport? With such changes, the information you have about the passengers in your care would be more than just a dot, and both your caring and your motivation should increase.

Takeaway

One of the biggest problems we face in customer experience is when employees become disconnected from customers.  I’ve worked in a division before where nobody in product management or marketing had ever met a client, and we had demonstrably the worst customer experience in the marketplace, leading the industry in cancellation rates.

Take his advice to heart – how can you continually share the impact with your employees, turning your customers into human beings, rather than dots on a screen?

 

woman on phone

Remember, Call Center Agents = Your Brand

woman on phoneHow’s your brand today?

Defining your brand used to be so much easier. In the good old days (for me, the good old days were the 80s), your brand was whatever your advertising said it was. Social media changed all that. Now your brand is whatever your customers say it is. And so your brand is largely determined by your call center agents – those often-ignored people who toil day and night to help your customers solve their problems.

Looking to Your Employees

Unfortunately, many companies treat call center agents as replaceable cogs in a system. When one leaves, bring in another and move on. During the downturn you could sometimes get away with this, because you could always find another worker. But every time a disengaged agent focuses more on getting off of the call then actually solving your customer’s problem, it hurts you twice.

First, it hurts your brand. That interaction just had more impact on your customer than your CEO. Your marketing, product development and innovation were all just made ineffectual because of a frustrated call center agent. That’s always been true, but we’ve been able to ignore that – even in the face of social media. 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.

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

Guest Post: Keep Trying to Delight Your Customers

Today we have a special treat, with a guest post by Bob Thompson, author of the new book Hooked on Customers.

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If you go to a bank to use the ATM and it doesn’t work, you’ll be unhappy and more likely to switch banks if it keeps occurring. Is it worth trying to delight customer when they just want to withdraw cash and be on their way? Probably not. ATMs are viewed as a basic need, with little opportunity to delight, only to disappoint if they don’t work.

In the 2010 Harvard Business Review article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” authors from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) argue that consumers are more inclined to punish bad service than to reward delightful service. Therefore, companies should focus on delivering the basics, which is more likely to drive loyalty.

The title of the article is provocative and the authors make a number of great points. But if you take their advice literally, you’ll lose a great opportunity to create genuine customer loyalty. Read more

Create Better Customer Outcomes through Journey Mapping Workshops

This post was originally shared through the ICMI (International Customer Management Institute) newsletter. You can view the original version here.

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Call center managers have seen it before. Customers form an expectation from your sales channel or marketing literature, receive a different experience through operations, and then call your contact center where they may receive a third perspective.

It’s the setup for a rough call, and an even rougher customer experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Great companies have found a way to create a consistent end-to-end experience. They align their silos, creating a consistent experience from start to finish. How do they do it?

Enter customer journey mapping.

Customer journey mapping is a series of techniques that map out your customer experience from start to finish. It follows your customer across silos as they go from initial awareness through the sales process into ongoing engagement.

A popular way to conduct journey mapping is through a workshop. Read more