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Use Journey Mapping to Kill 50 Ideas That Suck

2016-04-13 21.53.33-1We were leading the Action Workshop, finishing a journey mapping project with a client.

Whereas they had a very strong overall experience, they were struggling to retain Millennials, a key demographic for them (and for many clients).  The journey mapping process led to a clear picture of the pain points for this demographic, and pointed the way to some quick wins, as well as very strategic approaches to really engage this group.  Unfortunately, the challenge came when we engaged the local staff. They were already receiving so many initiatives from various sources that they were struggling (and often failing) to keep up.  As a result, the customer-facing staff was so busy doing reports and filing emails that they really didn’t have time to be customer-facing anymore.

That’s when a participant finally said it. As we were brainstorming, he put up the post-it note: “Kill 50 ideas that suck.” 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

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

How Wolters Kluwer Financial Services builds a great B2B customer experience – an interview with interim president Pete Koehn

KOEHN_WebsiteImagine a former accountant leading an organization that helps banks manage regulatory compliance.  You might picture a reliance on financial facts and figures making it unlikely for a customer experience program to take root. If so, then you clearly haven’t spent any time with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services.

Pete Koehn is interim president of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Risk, Originations and Compliance business unit. Prior to this position, he served in both finance and operations. But both led him to appreciate the role of engaged customers and employees, and of their dual role in driving results.

Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has been growing rapidly, with some of that growth through acquisition. Shortly after Pete stepped into his current role, his Senior Director of Professional Services Darin Byrne approached him about how customer experience practices could help alleviate any customer service disruptions, while paving the way for even greater growth.

His initial response?  “My immediate question was, ‘Is this a real discipline?’

Darin, a CXPA member, assured him it was, sharing maturity models and best practices, and Pete quickly bought in. Since that time, “We’ve used customer experience as a mantra – let’s understand the voice of the customer. With customer experience in mind, we’ve made changes that have really helped us with this overarching idea of getting our business to act as one.”

Three of those key changes they’ve made are in the area of structure, governance, and culture. 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

What’s the customer experience focus for 2015?

Yesterday, four of the CXPA’s CX experts spoke about the year in review, and what customer experience has in store for 2015.  Is it the role of emotions?  Employee engagement? Crowdsourcing journey maps?  Watch the Google Hangout with Jim, Tabitha Dunn, Lynn Hunsaker, and Peter Haid as they discuss.

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.

Are you building a culture of customer experience? Or a failed ignition switch?

There has been a lot to press about the General Motors failed ignition switch.  There are many lessons to be learned about quality and manufacturing. But the most important lesson is about culture.

Culture is your most powerful tool to create change. Exploiting your culture can drive significant improvements quickly. But culture can also stymy the best-laid plans. Witness Best Buy, which thrived in the 90s and early 2000s, driven by a culture of individual innovation. But this same culture also made it hard to react when the top competitors Circuit City and Ultimate Electronics went out of business, and the new challenge was from low-cost providers Amazon and Wal-Mart. Read more