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Creating a Culture of Empowerment: Letting Your Employees Help Your Customers

E19F7DF02B-1Guest Post by Scott Carlson

On a recent trip to a local bookstore I was having trouble finding a particular title. Not seeing any nearby store associates, I walked to the centrally-located Help Desk hoping to find some assistance. Unfortunately the Help Desk was not staffed and there were already two customers queued up ahead of me. Noticing two idle associates at the checkout counter, I walked there and asked one of them to check if the title was in stock. After a brief title search she indicated that the book was indeed out of stock but that it could be ordered – not by her but back at the Help Desk. I walked by the still unstaffed Help Desk with two customers in line and left the store empty-handed wondering why it was so difficult to do this relatively simple task—and whether I would be returning anytime soon.

Failed CX in Action

On the outside, the store seemed like it would pass any customer experience test: the store looked great and the staff was friendly and likely executing their duties as defined. But while clean stores and friendly and competent employees are of course key elements of any good customer experience, customer experience goes much deeper than that. 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

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 is Ace Hardware trying to buy my loyalty?

Settergren'sNo neighborhood is complete without the local hardware store. Ours is Settergren’s, an Ace Hardware that’s been in business for over a hundred years.

Like most of it’s compatriots, it’s the anti-Home Depot. You get a good selection at a decent price. But what really matters is the convenience and the really good advice from people with dirt under their fingernails who know what kind of nail to use and can recommend the best caulk for your situation. We stop by there not just to get tools, but to ask for advice on a job or to look for a contractor.

Settergren’s is a neighborhood institution. On a Saturday afternoon it’s crowed with people coming for paint, nails, mulch or a shovel. They’re active in the community and neighbors regularly talk about how much they love Settergren’s.

So it surprised me when they came out with a loyalty program. You earn points by spending money with them which comes back in the form of a card good for $5 in purchases.

Who thought THAT was a good idea? 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.

Aftermath

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

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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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’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

Celebrating #CXDay

I hope you had a terrific CX Day!  I really enjoyed the online content – if you didn’t get a chance to view it, I highly recommend going to www.CXDay.org for a chance to review them. Here in Minneapolis we had an amazing event, with over 80 participants learning about what to do when your customers are tired of talking to you (survey fatigue).

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Who Was There?

I posted earlier about local events at Wolters Kluwer and ShopHQ.  Today I have photos from two other celebrations – at UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement and Allianz Life.

united-healthcare-logoOne of the UnitedHealthcare activities was a booth in their commons area. They engaged employees in quick conversations about grounding their decisions based on VOC and stressed the importance of plain and simple language in communications. They completed by asking for a commitment of what they will do to make the experience better for our consumers.  As Lisa Wilson, Senior Director of the Member Experience explained, “We aim to keep it fun, simple and impactful!”

They also hosted several of the CXPA webinars throughout the day. Lisa wanted to make sure I said, “Thank you to the CxPA for providing such a suite of opportunities to help us raise our game here at UHC!”  Below are two photos of their day – love the selfie!

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Allianz also had a great celebration.  I’ve posted about their strong communications program in the past, and it was evident on CX Day as always. They have televisions throughout their offices, and for this day they focused exclusively on customer experience topics. I’ve included one example below, which links to more of their posters. Because this is also Customer Service week, the rest of the week they are focusing on service, with numerous activities designed to engage and recognize employees who work in Operations, including in the Call Center.

Allianz CX Day Poster

Recap

Lastly, Director of Customer Experience Barbara Norrgard explained, “We also recently ran a contest where we asked people what they are doing to achieve our aspiration and we ran the article today.” Winners were announced to the entire company, celebrated for the impact they have on the customer experience.

So there you have it – two more excellent ideas you can use for next year.  We’re down to only 363 planning days before our next CX Day!