Eight Ways to Build Customer Empathy

workplace-1245776_640Customer empathy is absolutely critical to a company-focused culture. Without empathy, employees focus on their own problems, rather than your customers’. They build overly-complex products based on what they want to buy, rather than starting with customer needs. And they certainly don’t understand the emotional context of your customers.

Both Forrester and the Temkin Group have begun focusing much more on the emotional elements of an experience, which is spot-on. Emotions are the greatest driver of loyalty – and of disloyalty.  And you can’t solve them without empathy.

Eight ways to help build empathy in your company Read more

CX is team sport. Is your whole team playing?

199073871_f559db9436_bYou wouldn’t play soccer without your forwards. You’d never try basketball without guards. So why do so many teams try to win at CX with only a partial team?

At HoC we’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with all kinds of companies: non-profits, retailers, insurance companies, you name it. The one consistency is a tendency to under-invite teams critical to success.

Three specific groups are often left out – IT, HR and those who “don’t get it.”

Breaking it Down

Let’s start with IT.  I get it. As a former IT leader, I can say we’re not always the most fun to partner with. We can get defensive, or we start “solutioning” before we’ve heard from customers. Read more

Guest Post: We Hold These Truths: Implementing CX Governance

1JFMNQLRE8This guest post comes from Darin Byrne, Senior Director of Professional Services at Wolters Kluwer.

As the summer goes on and the Fourth of July approaches, I’ve found myself thinking once again about the principles that our nation was founded upon. I am reminded that the signing of a document, even one as revered as the Declaration of Independence, was such a decisive point in our history – actually in the history of the world. And I’ve been pondering even more broadly about all of our governing documents, from the Magna Carta to the Constitution: how they came about and how they still affect us today. We agreed amongst ourselves what our goals were, how we would operate as a country, the checks and balances we would put in place to achieve our goals, and then we wrote them down and implemented them, and – even more amazing – we continue to adhere to them today. It really is pretty amazing.

Relating to CX

And that, of course, got me thinking about what I do every day. Because, much as we might like it to be true, a bunch of people don’t just show up to work and decide individually what they’re going to do all day—we need guidance in the way of a set of goals and principles. And while a so-called “benevolent dictator” might rule in some companies, the truth is that this is not a sustainable model for a business. In order to achieve your company goals, you have to have guiding principles, an overriding plan, and people to maintain and carry out that plan—that is, governance. Read more

You can’t teach employees to care

pexels-photo-29594I was presenting at a healthcare conference on the importance of managing your in-clinic experience. In the Q&A session an attendee asked, “How important is hiring versus training? If you have a front-office person who isn’t that friendly, how can you teach her to be nicer?”

Impressions are Key

It’s a great question, and one that isn’t asked nearly often enough. The front desk is critical to establishing trust in your clinic. New patients really have no idea as to how effective the clinician is. Sure, they can see the diplomas on the wall. But it’s the office – and particularly the friendliness of the front-office personnel – who help the patient decide whether or not to trust their provider.

(There’s an old joke out there. What do they call the student at the bottom of the graduating class at Harvard Medical School? Doctor.)

The front office staff provides that assurance that new patients made the right choice. A brusque person – even if he or she is really good in other parts of the business – destroys this confidence. A clinic’s perceived abilities rise or fall depending on that front-desk person. Which is why they’re sometimes called “Director of First Impressions.” Read more

Get out of your office!

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In 2008, I left Best Buy. I had been there for six years, and before that had been with a small business. So I just assumed that every company was obsessed with their customers!

Yes, I was naïve. I still am.

From there, I joined a new company. And I learned there were other approaches to running a business.

This was a division of a Fortune 100 company that was growing at an incredible rate. We had the highest market share, and we were growing at 25%. So the organization felt like they had everything going right. They were so confident that their new strategy was to become a $1 billion business.

Missing the Point

Those who have read Good to Great probably know where this is going.

When I joined the company, I was amazed to discover that nobody in marketing or product development had ever met a client!  Their sales came because the parent company sold the products. The parent company had the relationships – so our product teams were comfortable sitting in their offices making up strategy PowerPoints. Read more

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

Creating a “Heart-Wired” organization – an interview with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health

CAS headshotWhile all customer experience strategies are important, healthcare brings it to a whole new level. Patient experience, and the potential for harm, amps up the significance of customer experience principles, creating literally life-changing outcomes.

That’s why I really enjoyed working with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health, a leading and still growing integrated health network in New Jersey. Our work with them will be published as a case study in the forthcoming book Mapping Experiences. After our project I had the chance to interview Chrisie about her organization’s overall approach to customer experience.


Approaching CX

She begins by contending that patient or customer experience isn’t so much what you do, but more about who you are and what you value as an organization.  At Meridian, they take a comprehensive approach to experience, collaborating across the organization to create consistent expectations and improvement. “Marketing, nursing, HR, operations, guest relations, and quality are coming together so that our ideas and initiatives are note created in silos,” Chrisie explains. “We’re changing how we approach patients and families and viewing those we serve as true partners. This view is helping us humanize the experience.” This core philosophy influences how Meridian recruits for talent and takes care of team members, how they set expectations for how team members treat and interact with each other, how they respond to consumer inquiries, and how they support front line caregivers who take care of the ultimate customers — patients. Read more

The Best Way to Serve Omnichannel Customers? Just Ask Them.

omnichannel-customers_63116393_s-2015It’s hard to be in customer service. There are so many different – and conflicting – reports of what customers really want from you that it can be overwhelming to decide how to optimize your processes and allocate your resources. For instance, Teletech says that 28% of customers prefer to resolve issues via phone – but the Forrester Wave report says that 73% choose phones as their preferred method. For every report that says Millennials say forget the phone, another says Millennials actually prefer to speak to a live rep.

What is a customer service or experience leader to do with this conflicting information?

Maybe it’s time to stop looking at everybody’s customers, and instead focus on your own. Read more

Why You Should Care About Journey Map Design

62IPO7VGWF-1Who cares about journey map design? After all, it’s your data that should be taking center stage in your maps. Who cares if it’s glitzy, as long as it shows your findings?

I’ve actually seen posts that make this argument. As if facts and data are all the really matter. But you’ve probably seen what happens when you try to sway your company using facts and data. The end result? Not much.

Even worse, I read a post from somebody who purports to do journey mapping saying exactly this: don’t worry about a pretty journey map, focus on content. But while of course content is important—your journey maps need to accurately communicate the voice of your customer!—design is an essential element to success.

We know as CX professionals that emotions matter (in fact, I wrote a whole post about it). When we design customer experiences, we know to keep the customer in mind at all times. So why not do the same with our journey maps? After all, journey maps are an experience unto themselves – we need to apply these same CX principles to a map. Read more

How To Build Stronger Customer Relationships & Why It Matters

3M1WKORDOL-1Guest post by Brooke Cade.

The way we communicate with each other has changed. Digital marketing and social media has transformed our world, the way we gather information and how we engage with each other. Because of this, businesses have had to reevaluate the way they communicate and market to their customers.

Millennials are a huge driving force behind this shift. Unlike the generation before them, millennials are more engaged with brands and are more likely to post product reviews, share links about products, and follow brands on Twitter (and other social platforms). Compared to the generation before them, this is a 150% to 250% increase in brand engagement.

Because of the changes we’re seeing in how brands do business, now is the time—if you’re not doing it already—to stand out from your competitors and find ways to connect and build strong relationships with your customers. Millennials are looking for brands that deliver authentic and high quality experiences to them each time they engage.

So, where do brands even begin? Read more