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There are no bathrooms in the USS Enterprise

starship-enterpriseAs I was leading a journey map session this week, one participant asked, “When you’re putting in the customer’s steps on the journey, how do you know which ones to include? It feels like it could get really long”

My response was that, from what I can tell, Captain Kirk never goes to the bathroom.

She paused, clearly trying to decide whether I was saying something insightful or just stupid. I don’t know if she ever decided which it was. Read more

4 ways to bring the customer into your journey mapping workshop

A journey mapping workshop is a powerful way to build customer intelligence and to create customer-based capabilities.

Journey mapping workshops bring together members from different parts of your company to walk through a particular customer’s journey, documenting your customer’s steps and emotions throughout. Where these workshops really show their value is by documenting how your silos impact your customer. Are there missed handoffs? Perhaps you have redundant emails coming from different departments, or conflicting incentives that lead to contradictory programs. They also show the systems and groups that impact that customer, and are a superior way to create alignment on your needs. See here for more details on how to conduct a journey mapping workshop.

Diving In

Done right, what differentiates a great journey mapping workshop from a process flow discussion is this focus on your customer. And this focus can be really hard to create.

We spend 30-50 hours a week interacting with our internal processes and procedures, and only a small fraction of that time actually talking to customers. It’s hard to leave that behind to really put yourself in your customer’s shoes. But you need to find a way to do that to make your journey mapping workshop successful.

For example, when I was leading a workshop, we started by identifying the customer steps. Our first volunteer began by, “Well, of course the first step our customer takes is to call us.”

That’s when we had to call a pause. From his perspective, what he said was true. This is his first step in the process, so it’s a natural place to begin. But by accepting this, we cut off our best opportunities to make improvements. Read more

“No, Bill. You don’t want wider seats.”

At a recent dinner party I explained what I do for a living. One attendee responded, “Well, then can you please call Delta, and tell them I want wider seats?”

I responded, “Actually, you don’t.  People say they want wider seats, but their behavior says that they really don’t.”

“Oh, you mean the hypothetical general public doesn’t want wider seats?”

“No, Bill.”  I responded. “I mean that you specifically don’t want wider seats.”

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Surveys Don’t Tell the Full Story

The problem with many customer experience surveys is that they recommend the equivalent of “make my seats wider.” It’s a common practice to ask customers to rate importance for different factors, then compare that to satisfaction. But it just doesn’t work.  Since you measure each item in isolation, everything is free.  And so there’s nothing to ensure that respondents’ answers match their actual behaviors. Expensive things like wider seats have just as much weight as free peanuts.

To show what I mean, let’s play this out.  I call Delta and somehow find the magical IVR prompts to reach the right person. She hears my plea and responds, “My goodness – you’re right!  We’ve been looking at this wrong! We’ll fix that immediately.”  So they remove one chair from each row to allow for wider seats.  What will happen? Will travelers flock to Delta to take advantage of the space?

Read more

Creating a great customer experience for agents AND consumers – an interview with Lisa Hoene, VP of Brand and Marketing Services, Allianz Life

Aiming for the Heart of their CustomersThis is the fourth in our Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers interview series, with seven Minnesota customer experience leaders sharing their strategy for the coming year. In this article, we catch up with Lisa Hoene, the VP of Brand and Marketing Services for Allianz Life. You can see all of the interviews here:

Lisa Hoene

Overview

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life) helps Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products sold through independent financial professionals. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry. Read more

What Would Fidelity Do? – Leverage Your Customer-Facing Staff

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelGreat companies base their capabilities off of the knowledge of their customer-facing staff. While they use market research and strategic planning, companies with a consistently great customer experience get that way by creating deliberate processes to learn from their employees.

Leveraging Your Customer-Facing Staff to create Employee-Based Innovation is the last piece of the Customer-Based Capabilities section of the Heart of the Customer model. Citrix, Oracle and Safelite all referenced practices to gather insights from their employees, but Fidelity again provides the best guidance. Read more

Logitech: Sometimes Automation isn’t Your Friend

I received this email today.  While this is a B2C example, I think we can all see the risks inherent to any of our businesses.  I did not edit this email at all, outside of deleting the reference number.

Hi Jim,
This is <agent first name>, from The Logitech Customer Care Team.
How’s everything going, Jim?  We have sent a response and we haven’t heard back anything from you. We just want to make sure that we were able to address your concerns before the system automatically tag your case as closed.
Is there anything else I can help you with? If your issue has not been resolved, please do not hesitate to update me.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to visit our website at http://logitech.com  or reply to this e-mail.
This is your support reference number: [reference number].
Thank you for choosing Logitech and have a wonderful day.
Sincerely Yours,
<agent first name>
Logitech Customer Care Inc.

Now, this wasn’t the most personal email I’ve ever received.  Especially since this is the third time I have received this exact email from a tech!

Scripts are useful, and they help ensure consistent service.  But over-reliance on them really doesn’t help. Using the exact same message coming three times shows you are inauthentic, let alone signing off as <agent first name>!

Have a great holiday weekend!

<customer experience blogger>

Sometimes, Customer Experience is Hard

Rite-Aid Wellness Discount for Snickers

I’m on my annual sabbatical to Maine, where my family spends a week at the cabin then a week exploring the coast.  I have seen a number of questionable customer experiences here, but two stand out.

First, a visit to Rite-Aid, the regional pharmacy chain.  Like many retailers, Rite-Aid has a loyalty card – in their case, it is named a Wellness+ card.  So far, so good.  Except that they apparently their governance is lacking, since last week the loyalty discount is applied to Snickers!

Rite-Aid_WellnessIf you call your program a Wellness+ card, you need to have the discipline to apply it to items that actually improve wellness.  I realize this could fall under the +, but that’s taking it a bit far.

The second item: It was my birthday yesterday, and the local radio station sent an email wishing me a happy birthday, including a promotion.  Again, nothing wrong with that – except the email was addressed to “FirstName!”

Kool 108 Email

Sending a birthday message is a great way to build customer intimacy.  But only if you do it right.  This message is the opposite of intimacy.

You need to take the time to test your messages – and don’t send them until they’re right.

Your takeaway:  We all have loyalty programs that are designed to improve our customer experience.  But if you do not have the discipline to think through the implications and test them, they can actually detract from, rather than add to, your customer experience.

Two Customer Experiences Gone Wrong – LinkedIn, Arby’s

LinkedIn Invitation

Two national companies have created lessons for all of us.

First, from LinkedIn

#1:  I received the email on the right from LinkedIn today. I don’t actually know anything about the LinkedIn Contacts feature yet.  It’s probably really good.  But can’t they be more selective in choosing a contact to display? Since it’s unlikely I’ll use LinkedIn as “an opportunity to say hello” to my wife!

They probably did not deliberately select somebody with my same last name, but they should definitely weed out contacts who do.

The lesson:  It’s impossible to think through every possible result of your campaigns, but do you test them thoroughly before launching?  Had LinkedIn sent this email to all employees first, they would have found this problem before going live to customers.  Do you test before launch?

Next, from Arby’s

#2: Have you bought something at the Arby’s drive-through recently?  A polite woman’s voice comes on asking if you want to order whatever product they’re promoting.  You say “No thanks,” and the conversation continues in a very different voice.  Apparently, Arby’s uses an actress to pre-record the offer to start the conversation, then uses an employee from there on.

My local McDonald’s also tested this idea, but abandoned it quickly.  Who could think this is a good idea?  If the lift gained from the actress’s invitation so great that it makes up for the jarring experience that follows? My favorite is when the accent-neutral actress’s invitation is followed by a Hispanic man asking if I want curly fries with my order.

The lesson: While most of us don’t have a drive-through, do you create a similar jarring customer experience when we conduct the inevitable hand-offs?  More importantly, do you take the time to personally walk through your customer experience?  Because one walk-through should be all it takes to realize this is a mistake.

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

Customer Experience Irony

I attended a webinar today titled Understanding the Voice of the Customer: How to Effectively Gather and Leverage Customer Insight from Multiple Channels to Enhance the Customer Experience. I’m obviously all about both Voice of the Customer and the Customer Experience. But they immediately lost me when the presentation began with:

UnderstandingVOC-FirstPage Read more