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Create Change Through Customer Experience Heroes

What gets measured may get managed, but what gets celebrated gets repeated.

Improving your customer experience requires you to use every tool at your disposal.  Voice of the Customer research is obviously critical.  Understanding your existing Customer Satisfaction Survey or Net Promoter Scores is also important.  But while they monitor your status, these alone will not create change.  You need to find those bright spots in your organization where your customer is being well-served and promote them as much as possible.  You need to create customer experience heroes.

Customer Experience Hero

Heroes define a company, showing what is important.  When a company celebrates sales, they sell more – but perhaps at the expense of delivery issues.  When it celebrates product management, new products come out quickly – including those without customer demand.  But companies with great customer satisfaction use the Voice of the Customer data to understand their level of customer satisfaction, and then celebrates those who engage customers at a superior level. Read more

emplyoee

Last month I had the opportunity to give the keynote speech at MindSurfFrom People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement.  This 4-minute video gives some of the highlights.  Read below for more information.

httpv://youtu.be/f6i7ky0mWNM

The description:  Employee Engagement is not just a feel-good program. Companies are seeing significant productivity and profitability gains through building a culture of engaged employees, as reported by Gallup, Towers-Perrin, Hay Group and others. The worst economic downturn in decades left many employees afraid to leave their jobs. Now that the economy is loosening up, experts warn we may see increasing turnover as employees leave for greener pastures. How will you keep your best people? This session will focus on best practices to engage employees, including the ROI of engagement and how you can get started at your company tomorrow.

The Three Keys to Great Employee Engagement:

  1. Point to a clear direction
  2. Develop your coaches
  3. Let your employees find the way

Learn more in, “From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement!”  Contact Jim at Heart of the Customer to learn more about how he can help you improve your employee engagement.  Or visit here to see another sample video and more speaker information.

Your Customer Experience Infrastructure is Crumbling

We are facing a management crisis.  And our customers and employees are paying the price.

The mantra over the last 20 years, but particularly during the Great Recession, has been “Do More with Less.”  Financial pressures have led to gutting anything that doesn’t show a direct return, from business investments to labor in retail stores.  But as documented in my white paper, what looks good for 3 months ends up with long-term consequences.

Management is another casualty.  Reorganizations and management shake-ups are a regular occurrence.  The role of a professional manager who has the time to develop her people is a relic of the past.  And that’s negatively impacting both our employees and our customers.

Read more

Customer Experience begins with a clear strategy

Do you have a clear direction?

Asked differently: If I ask three members of your team to give me your customer experience strategy, will I get the same answer?  If the answer is yes, you have an unusual level of clarity – congratulations!  If not…

 

Clear Direction is Crucial

Fifteen years ago I was tasked to create a new business practice at ExecuTrain – providing training to IT professionals.  I laid out a clear strategy, telling my team how we were going to be first to market to beat the competition by offering classes that they didn’t yet have.  My team was excited about the opportunity.  That is, until that evening at our all staff meeting.  That’s when our CEO introduced our program to the company and told the staff that our strategy was to be fast followers.  We would let the competition try all the new classes, and we’d follow up with those that were successful.

Clearly, the team was confused.  Which was it?  In this case, they had two different leaders with opposite directions.  Which was correct? It’s like they were in a boat with kids that each tried to go in a different direction.  And we went nowhere fast! Read more

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.

Read more

Join Jim at Mindsurf!

I’m pleased to announce that I will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Mindsurf conference.  Join me as we discuss From People to Profits: The Business Case for Employee Engagement.

We will walk through not only the business case, but also three very concrete steps that you can take to improve employee engagement at your organization.  The official description:

Employee Engagement is not just a feel-good program. Companies are seeing significant productivity and profitability gains through building a culture of engaged employees, as reported by Gallup, Towers-Perrin, Hay Group and others. The worst economic downturn in decades left many employees afraid to leave their jobs. Now that the economy is loosening up, experts warn we may see increasing turnover as employees leave for greener pastures. How will you keep your best people? This session will focus on best practices to engage employees, including the ROI of engagement and how you can get started at your company tomorrow.

I hope to see you there!

Case Study: Personal Customer Connections + Employee Empowerment = a Great Customer-Inspired Experience at Davanni’s

“We pretty much let our employees and customers decide what’s on our menu.”

That’s a great example of the philosophy that has led to long-term success at Davanni’s, a Twin Cities pizza and hoagy restaurant. While their local focus and fun atmosphere are definitely part of the mix, it is the extreme efforts to keep fresh with customers and employees that really drive their results.

Davanni’s has 21 locations throughout the Twin Cities. They have been in business for 37 years, featuring family-friendly food on the lower end of the cost spectrum. I originally asked to interview them about their experience with Coke’s new soda machine. But I ended up discovering the best example I’ve found of a company trusting their strategies to their customers and front-line employees. This story is a great example for any industry. Read more

The #1 Tool to Engage Your Customers

Note:  This post was originally listed at Annette Franz’s blog at http://cxjourney.blogspot.com/.  If you aren’t subscribed to her blog, you really should consider it!

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You’ve gathered your customer insights and made the changes. Your website is streamlined and easy to use. Your add-on services are perfectly aligned with customer needs. You have invested in the finest training for your employees. Your IT upgrades ensure that your staff has up-to the-second information at their fingertips.

But somehow nothing is changing. Your sales are flat, and your customer experience scores are static. What’s wrong?

Tell me, how good are your line managers?

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The employee-customer interaction is where the magic happens in almost any service-based business. Whether renting a car, shopping for groceries or eating out, the customer-facing associate makes the difference between a ho-hum experience and one that brings you back for more. Read more

The Second Key to Creating a Great Customer-Inspired Experience: Engage the Entire Team on the Opportunity

Once you know what matters, the next step is to get everybody involved.

I have been speaking about this topic quite a bit lately, and one exercise I have is for participants to identify five recent projects or programs their company has developed to improve your customer experience. These could be new products, pricing changes, sales training programs – any new idea. Go ahead and do this, as well. Write down five new projects your company is implementing:

  1. ______________________________
  2. ______________________________
  3. ______________________________
  4. ______________________________
  5. ______________________________

Now that you have this list (you did do the exercise, didn’t you?), let’s look at your projects. Whether you work for a 50 or 50,000-person company, a good rule of thumb is that 90% of your company’s employees are individual contributors. So if your company is doing well at this key, 4-½ of these ideas should come from front-line employees. Brave readers: comment on how well you did!

Of the hundreds of attendees in my talks, how many had at least three ideas come from an individual contributor?

Four.

None came from a company of more than ten people. Only about half had even one idea come from a front-line employee.

We can do better. Companies pay consultants to tell them what to do, when they have dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of passionate employees who know far more about their customers. We need to do cast a wider net. Read more

Innovating Through Your Front-Line Staff Speech

I’ve been speaking quite a bit lately – four times in the last week and a half – so I haven’t been able to complete the second half of my blog post “Experiment Your Way to Growth.” But you can see me speak about it below.  I come on at 2:44 into it.

The second half should be out next week!