Big Fails: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster

In our CX Bold Moves series we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands that are missing the mark on basic customer expectations. These are CX Big Fails. Failures likes these can teach CX professionals as much about the impact of CX strategy as successes can. Our teacher today is FedEx.

Among the world’s largest transportation companies, FedEx made the top 5 in the 2017 Forbes Global ranking. This is the brand that invented the real-time tracking packages service. Yet, customers CANNOT change FedEx delivery dates over the phone. I learned that first hand when I tried to complete that simple transaction last week.

Taking a Vacation from Intuitive CX

You may ask why I made a phone call if I am a customer experience professional and an innovator? Because I am always on the go and multitasking. Despite self-service, there will always be use cases for phone as a channel. My customer expectation from a brand like FedEx dictated the brand would have a chat bot system to take care of a simple transaction like changing a delivery date. A request like mine must be in the top ten questions for a delivery company.

To my surprise, there was no chat bot. When I reached the representative, she told me she did not have access to change my delivery date. I needed to go online with my tracking number, expand the More Details Link and choose Hold, On Vacation, or something like this to change my date. Kiss first call resolution goodbye. Also kiss low effort score goodbye!

Last, but not least, according to FedEx, we are to understand that “Vacation” means “Change Delivery Date.” One of the foundational principles for delivering good customer experience is to enable front line employees to do their job. Tools and resources allow a brand that cares about the customers to do that. The fact that FedEx agents are not given those tools is shocking. On top of that, the non-intuitive navigation copy guarantees additional calls (costs) to the contact center by confused customers desperate to find a common Change Delivery Date field that doesn’t exist.

Locked Out of the Customer Journey

My new (lowered) customer expectation was that I could solve my issue and that the self-service channel would be quick and seamless. As customers, we all encounter  system limitations, even from brands we like and trust. At this point, I was still a fan of FedEx. A few hours later, I went online to do what I was instructed to do.

After clicking the Hold, on Vacation button, I was asked to register as a customer. This is when the fun picked up again!  When a customer registers he/she is required to verify their address. The Fedex website offers two ways to verify address: through MAIL (days after you actually needed to change a delivery date on your package), or by answering a four question survey, two of which are inquiring about the names of PAST residents of your home.

The questions are multiple choice. Offered no alternative, I tried to guess which names lived in my New York City apartment before I did. And I got locked out. At this point I made the second call to FedEx. The customer agent said he could not help me. Period. When I asked for his supervisor, he said that he does not have one since ALL supervisors left at 10:00 pm ( I called at 10:30 pm). At the end I was NOT ABLE to change my delivery date after having omnichannel transactions with the brand.

This is not only a failed move, this is bad customer experience, plain and simple. I never got a survey to share my feedback, but needless to say, if given the choice, I will never use FedEx again.

Many brands have customer journeys that are so complex that they remain unsolved. This is understandable, given the growing complexities of customer needs and expectations. To change a delivery date when you interact with an iconic courier brand should not be one such complexity. Table stakes cannot be compromised. Dominos had to change their recipe because people did not like the taste of their pizza. Similarly, FedEx needs to ensure they deliver the main value for the customer – delivering packages at the right address at the most convenient time for the customer. If they cannot even do that, they will not enter the future of services and they can kiss that top 5 ranking goodbye.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Bold Moves Cadillac DoingCXRight

CX Bold Moves: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking

The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of innovation and keeping up with the pace of technology growth. Surprisingly, both are extremely slow to keep up with the new world when it comes to customer experience. Just last week this tweet popped up in my feed:

This tweet sums it all up. If you ask me, the gate of the future should not have any printer at all. We need to change the way we think about customer experience.

A month ago, I was walking home with my husband in New York and we passed through the car dealership part of Manhattan. Look at the 2018 displays today on 11th Avenue! They are pretty much the same, regardless of brand. All have plastic mannequins… I am not sure who is the target of this advertising technique. One thing is certain –  nobody born after 1980 will be converted to a customer because of it.

In the last six months, I am sure we all have at least one friend or acquaintance who has complained about the painful car buying experience. An entire industry emerged in response – companies like Shift and Carvana are the result of the notoriously bad customer experience of buying a car.

Just when I had given up on the car industry, I met the Head of Marketing and Member Services of Book by Cadillac. An innovative way of owning a vehicle, Book by Cadillac is a subscription service for luxury fleet vehicles that members can rent and swap for a month or a week. For $1,500 a month, a concierge delivers a vehicle directly to the member. The car arrives with the member’s favorite radio station tuned in and the seat in position. If the member informs the Cadillac team they are headed out of town for the weekend, they will find a picnic basket in the trunk.  Members feel a sense of freedom and convenience. Gone are the daily worries about car maintenance and insurance. Gone is the stress of owning a car. All of that is replaced with the feeling of being cared for by the car company.

Book by Cadillac is as much a great customer experience case as it is a strategic business case. A few years ago, Cadillac realized that its customer does not necessarily live in  Detroit, but is more likely to live on a coast, so they moved the brand headquarters to New York. Second, the car manufacturer discovered that Millennials were not buying Cadillacs. To solve for that, the brand created Book by Cadillac, a product focused on experience vs. material product – a product that gives customers options and freedom. The strategy worked! The average age of the Book by Cadillac customer is 40 vs the overall Cadillac customer’s age of 60.

Customer experience strategy, when applied correctly, works very well. When a brand puts the customer at the center of its design and business, new customers do come. Cadillac is living proof that shifting your business model at the right time means shifting your business to the future. Take a risk and it will pay off. Follow the customer and the customer will lead you to the future!

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

#CXTHUS Exchange Insights – winners and losers?

Attending conferences is a significant investment of both time and money. Even if you are speaker at the conference, like I was last week, the time away from your non-stop email flow can bring more stress than pleasure to your days. Once we reach a certain level of responsibilities, learning becomes a luxury. The key for all of us is not to let those other demands on our time stop us: there is no professional growth without learning from the successes and failures of our peers. Events like the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference make us more aware of what is going on in our industry and adjacent industries. They help us to better shift our own organizations ahead of our time.

So what did I learn from my peers at the conference?

A good expansion strategy may or may not work

TripAdvisor, the travel website that “enables travelers to unleash the full potential of every trip” reached 60% of all people who booked their travel online in the second half of 2017. TripAdvisor had a great strategy in mind – allow users to complete purchase without going to the hotel websites. Unfortunately, that strategy did not work. We are talking about this conference takeaway first, because we often overshare successes and do not talk enough about business failures. We can learn even more from our peers’ unsuccessful programs.

Conference speaker, Matthew Mamet, did not delve into exactly what went wrong at TripAdvisor, other than to explain that the hotels did not make it worthwhile to keep on TripAdvisor. You can imagine how long it took to build and launch this e-commerce experience on the travel site. Did somebody put the wrong assumptions in the financial model or did the contract with the hotels lack the proper incentives for commission? Regardless of the reason, sometimes things don’t work as planned. The best thing to do is move on and pivot as fast as possible. That is exactly what TripAdvisor is doing right now. An estimated 1 in 11 worldwide users visited TripAdvisor last July. I would not worry too much about the company. I am sure they will find another way to monetize such a powerful position.

Uber really gets it. All of it.

When Uber achieved 20% growth per month for 43 consecutive months, the company had to start from scratch with all of their processes and procedures. The innovator did not simply scale what it had (something many brands do). Instead, Uber used new technologies to reinvent itself. Uber uses machine learning to flag voice and text messages that over-index on negative sentiment, so they can pay attention to those messages and respond to them faster (read more about how Uber does this). The rideshare company uses the same technology to intercept customer care cases that are forwarded among many agents and do not fit a particular category (the ping-pong effect). Those cases are re-routed to a specialized team to handle. The AI technology also allows Uber to find a needle in a hay stack – the extreme cases in which something really bad happens to the customer. The algorithm looks for specific words early in the customer support message. When those words are there, the complaint is sent to a special care team.

COTA is the Uber in-house platform for digital agent assist that already has saved the company 9.5% – 10% of costs. Uber also does something very few brands do well. The company has a living document, a playbook. When they do something, they actually document it so other sites can replicate it. Not earth shattering in concept, but none of us does it! An important takeaway for Uber (and many of us) is that the saying about self-service – “build it and they will come” – is not working. Much more needs to be done in order to increase adoption of self-service. Many people underestimate the amount of effort and design required AFTER you launch something. Last, but definitely not least, Uber has already realized that the human agent of the future will have a completely new profile. He/she will have new skills, will come from different backgrounds and geographies, and will be paid much more. Uber’s estimate goes as high as 20% – 40% more pay. How do you fund that? With the savings from the digital agents that will be solving basic customer problems.

MGM Rocks

Before you read any further, watch MGM’s Welcome to the #SHOW ad – and pump up the sound. You will not be bored. I promise.

After the 2008 financial crisis, MGM had to find a new identity for the organization. “Welcome to the Show” is a story about the integration of 27 independent brands and the rebuilding of a company culture on the core belief that entertainment is a fundamental human need. To achieve that, MGM incentivized their executive leadership (through bonus and compensation) to travel around the world and become employee trainers on new service level standards. They made the MGM employees heroes and gave them a stage where to run their own shows. The brand is a year into this transformation so it is hard to prove results. One thing is certain though – MGM still strong and employee engagement scores are up. One lesson from MGM – stay longer at the local level when you think you are done, to ensure sustainability and reinforcement of standards. This is probably the hardest part of any hospitality program, especially with 27 resort destinations and 15 brands.

Hertz will not be in business by 2025

This may sound like an extreme prediction, but it is fairly obvious. One of the items covered at the conference was the need “to operationalize their loyalty program in the field.” What does that say to you? To me it says, our loyalty program is not working. The speaker talked about the realization that Hertz is not in the transportation business, but in the customer service industry. The conversation then became more about Hertz’s “concierge” program making “wow” experiences. I hope they have many loyalty members since it seems all efforts are channeled to those customers only.

The most alarming part was the Q&A during which the speaker said that the rideshare industry is NOT a threat to Hertz’s business. This is a classic case of not seeing the red flags as Allen Adamson writes in his great book Shift Ahead. Unless Hertz learns the importance of recognizing and acting fast on new business trends and shifts ahead soon, it will not exist in ten years.

Lessons from the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference abound. We are all returning to our offices ready to put into action what we have learned from the successes and failures of our CX colleagues.

The recording of my speaking engagement at the CX Exchange Travel & Hospitality Conference will be available for our readers on our Speaking Page in two weeks. Last, but not least, my favorite quote of the conference: “Do not confuse activity with results.”

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

ccxp certification test prep

Let’s get you certified as a CX professional!

If you are ready to signal to the business community that you are serious about customer experience and your intention to be part of its leadership ranks, it’s time to work on earning your internationally recognized Certified Customer Experience Professional certification.

Doing so makes you a part of an elite group of certified CX professionals who lead the way in customer experience innovation and action.

The Basics of the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Certification Continue reading “Let’s get you certified as a CX professional!”

customer experience applications for ai

How Well Do You Understand AI Applications?

In the last week I spoke about AI at the Argyle Forum webinar and at the ConnectID Conference in Washington, DC. Technology is emerging and we need to find a way to integrate it. In order to get approval for AI initiatives from our CFOs and/or boards and to get AI adopted by our customers, it must meet a specific customer experience need or fill in a journey gap.

As Jessica Groopman summarizes, AI can be broken into 3 major streams: big data, vision and language. These streams come with various applications that have clear business cases that we can learn from.

AI Big Data Application

Ancestry uses big data to explore DNA and compare it to hundreds of thousands of records it already has in its database to provide customers with insight about your genetics origin. Even my genetics specialist suggested last week that my husband and I check our ancestry there. Information is power, and knowing more about who we are and where we come from is a big gap in our journeys as individuals. Ancestry utilizes big data and creates a product and a customer experience that makes sense to the end user.  This is why their product is being adopted by customers.

AI Language Application

At Waverly Labs  Andrew Ochoa and his team are using machine translation to break down language barriers around the world. With an ear piece and an app, users can travel anywhere in the world and hold a real-time conversation with locals without learning the language of the country they are visiting. That is real game changer in communications. Imagine finally having a real conversation with your waiter in a small French bed and breakfast and ordering the best local dish. Or speaking to your mother or father-in-law without having to learn the mother tongue of your spouse (although understanding each other better could deteriorate that in-law relationship :)). These real customer experience gaps drove 22K people to fund Waverly Labs on IndieGogo and helped Andrew Ochoa raise $4.5M.

AI Vision Application

Facial recognition is one of the most common applications of vision AI. Yesterday at the ConnectID Conference we saw a variety of trials that prove the use of facial recognition at the airport to enhance efficiency and security for the customer and his/her journey. Airlines and airports all over the world are working on refining the value proposition of these deployments with the seamless biometrically enabled journey as the end goal.

Last year we wrote about eBay and their big bet to make AI the center of their product design. E-Bay is building the ultimate personalization, making it possible to design an outfit that does not exist!  We are all learning, but one thing is certain, chat bots are not the only application in AI and if you are a competitive customer experience professional, you better learn all the answers AI has to offer before you find yourself with a stupid chat bot in your contact center while  your competitor used AI to reimagine the customer experience, embracing a technology that drives them straight into the future.

Subscribe to DoingCXRight and get our exclusive Tips to Turn from CX Novice to CX Expert.

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

time tips for cx experts

CX and the Gift of Time

Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us.  Continue reading “CX and the Gift of Time”

CX Skills Builder: How Can You Get the Budget If You Can’t Articulate Your Value to Executives?

Two weeks ago we urged you to find CX problems and fix them instead of diagnosing and mapping them. That is  Continue reading “CX Skills Builder: How Can You Get the Budget If You Can’t Articulate Your Value to Executives?”

customer experience skills builder

CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It

Last week we talked about the identity crisis of CX professionals and we urged you to fix any small problem or seam on the customer journey in order to build internal brand equity and buy in. Often, there is another scenario that is equally sub-optimal for your career development. You might be working on customer experience without recognizing it. The trouble with that is that you cannot sell your transferable skills when you don’t know that you have them. Continue reading “CX Skills Builders: You May Have a CX Job and Not Know It”

customer experience tips fix it

CX Skills Builder: Own the Customer Experience

Often, CX professionals do not believe they impact CX design and experience for their customers. Why?  What is the cause of this disconnect?

A month ago, I got a call from an acquaintance saying that her mom got the loyalty points for flying to her destination on an airline carrier, but not coming back. When she called the carrier, the person on the phone told her that since the booking was not made via the airline website, they could not find her reservation and help her.

Who is responsible for this bad customer experience?  More importantly, who has the power, skills and authority to fix it? The answer is easy. All. Of. Us.  Who do customers perceive as the person responsible to fix their customer experience problems? The Customer Experience Director.  I realized this, pointedly, when my acquaintance reached out to me.

In this example, typical of airline industry providers, it is true that we cannot find a reservation that has been made on another channel. It is true that our systems can be better integrated, more CRM-enabled, and easier to work with. It is also true that despite existing limitations, many professionals across the organization can do something to improve the customer experience in a case like this one.

The person on the phone can come up with a creative way to find the customer reservation using another tool.  The person in charge of partnerships can work on a better integration with other booking channels.  The person managing the points tool can enhance the tool so that every customer shows the last 2 flights, regardless of where that customer booked those flights. The list of can-dos and should-dos goes on and on. Yet, these customer experience professionals do not see themselves as owning the customer experience, nor do they feel accountable to do something to improve the customer experience.

To change that, it is imperative to shift the culture in the mindset of customer experience professionals at all levels.  This is very difficult to do.

Even the CX professionals who own the customer experience on paper frequently do not feel empowered to have a real impact. They do not recognize that something as simple as the example above can become a successful project in their portfolio. Instead, customer experience professionals journey map and look at holistic pictures, often without implementing or designing for real changes to the customer experience.

It almost feels like CX professionals have an identity crisis that prevents them from acting with impact. This may be because some are afraid of angering the operation, and so take a more passive approach. A passive approach does not advance the cause of customer experience design, nor does it make it easier to make real changes and to be heard at the table next time. Customer Experience professionals need a portfolio of changes to gain legitimacy in their organizations.  The best way to do that is to find a seam in the experience and fix problems. No matter how small a problem may be, fix it. Don’t just document it, communicate it and assess it. Fix it!

It is okay to jump in and fix the customer experience because this IS your job as a CX professional. At the end of the day, if you are not fixing things you really aren’t  doing your job. Own the customer experience. Be Brave. And you will see how much your internal brand will grow, and you will watch the operation start to come to you for solutions they know will work.

Like this tip? Sign up to have our next Own the Customer Experience CX Pro Tip delivered straight to your Inbox.

Lilana Sig

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

 

crowdfunding save toysrus

Would You Pitch In To Save Toys “R” Us For Your Children To Experience? #ToysRUsGoFundMe

Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs. This week, billionaire Isaac Larian set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise 1Bn and save 400 of the remaining 735 US stores.  He is blaming the debt connected to the private equity owners for the epic failure of the brand. Would you donate to the campaign?

I would not. Here is why.

Today, social media empowers real time conversations between brands and consumers. Inspiring brand leaders have a real time communications tool to speak to their customers and take accountability for their actions. Social media equips brands like KFC to manage their mistakes brilliantly and turn them into meaningful connections with customers. Even with these tools, Toys ‘R’ Us leaders are quiet. Nobody is “coming out” and taking ownership of the destruction of an iconic brand. The company gave a flat statement that after they filed for bankruptcy last September they had a “bad holiday season.” That lack of accountability and transparency displays either that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us still does not understand its crucial role in the company’s failure to adapt, or that they are afraid to own their actions. Either way, this does not sound like a team that deserves a bail out.

Did you feel like the brand management did anything different this year during the holiday season? Did you see any creative retention or acquisition campaigns? Any coupons in your mailboxes to draw you in to the stores? Were there any smart partnerships to make a difference in your experience with the brand?

We all know that ad campaigns are expensive. But a national activation campaign and clever promotions and sales are not that draining on the balance sheet. So no, I will not pay to support a leadership that did not show creativity to boost sales and engagement during the holiday season and is not showing accountability or taking ownership now.

Last, but not least, what are we being asked to fund, exactly? Our past, our memories, or the future for our children? CNN made an emotional clip with ads from the past and a kid crying that the store closed.

The iconic jingle does stand for the joy of kids since 1948. Toys “R” Us was the brand of children for the last 70 years. Yet, when I needed a last minute toy for my niece last Christmas, Amazon was the brand that had same day delivery for Prime customers. This last season, when I needed a robot that could play with my nephew, Amazon was the one selling it. I am not sure what we will be saving with this campaign. Our children’s future, or our own memories of the past? And you know what? We can keep our memories in our hearts for FREE. And our children’s future might be in the next gen toys store that has not been created yet.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

TpysRUs bankruptcy why

Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues

The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of your private equity investors. Amazon has its best ever holiday season and digital commerce is becoming the way customers purchase consumer goods more and more. You also have read about the epic miss of Kodak to move to digital photography. Last but not least, you have observed other retailers invest in their websites and build e-commerce customer experiences in an effort to avoid a “Kodak moment.” What do you do?

Nothing new, is the answer, and bankruptcy is the outcome that we are all reading about this week.

Sometimes, the ROI of the CX business case is survival. Literally. If Toys ‘R’ Us had listened to its customers and had build a digital experience on their website, the historic brand of our childhood would have become part of the childhood of our children. It is not easy for a brick and mortar business to reinvent itself into a digital business. It is not impossible. To survive, companies must evolve with their customers or die. The survival of the fittest in full effect on the business landscape, especially in retail.

Every organization has capital funds to invest in big bets (or not). Disruptive technologies today are redefining our way of life and the way that we consume goods and services. Big brands today need to ensure their boards and executive teams are made of bold, visionary leaders who are not afraid to recognize the future when the future is coming their way, and to invest in righting their ship on time. The leaders of Toys ‘R” Us were not aggressive enough until the end. This navigated the brand into oblivion.

Another 2016 scenario for Toys ‘R’ Us could have been to focus its remaining funding into a digital transformation, to build an interactive website and a user friendly app. The stores could have become places for customers to interact with the toys and order them on apps on their own devices, or on iPads in the store.

Toys ‘R’ Us could have built an interactive loyalty program following the growth cycle of the children who received toys from their stores. I have a Toys ‘R’ Us loyalty card and for the last 5 years I have not received a single communication from the brand about its loyalty program. No coupons, benefits or programming of any sort.

I do not know what Toys ‘R’ Us has invested in, in the past 5 years. One thing is evident. The brand did not have an aggressive digital strategy and vision to stay relevant in today’s world. A better management team would have never let this happen…while they were buying their new smart phones with more and more apps and digital products on them every year.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Bold Moves: New York Times Beats Google

One of the most disrupted industries in the last 10 years is the newspaper media. Newspapers have always had a certain sophistication, history, and nostalgia associated with them. This makes it particularly hard to observe their disappearance. Of the newspaper industry’s most recognizable brands, the New York Times is one that brings an additional layer of style that makes so many of us never want to let go.

At the same time, even I, a New York Times devotee, have to admit that my interaction with the famous brand has changed. While I used to subscribe to the New York Times in 2009 and 2010, today I am a digital subscriber. Although I love the idea of the newspaper, even I stopped buying it. Although I married a man who reads the New York Times (it was one of the requirements), I am not reading the digital subscription nearly as often as I used to read the paper itself, in college.

Because of my personal affinity with the paper, I was even more happy to read that the Times’ overall digital business is growing faster than Google and that the annual growth of new online subscriptions is averaging 46% since 2011.

Now that is a noteworthy shift that not many “old school” and “traditional” businesses are able to execute.

How was the Times able to do this? By being bold and building a strategy in 2015 that they are executing flawlessly today. The Times did not wait to fade into oblivion before it chose to re-channel itself. Since April 24th, 2017, the news outlet added the millennial channel to their portfolio by joining Discover on Snapchat. This shift is arguably the most digital signaling a news brand can give to tell its customers, “I am where you are. I have not changed my core value proposition of reliable, credible news delivery. I have just adapted to the times (no pun intended) and I am doing it in a different way.”

For a brand to do what The New York Times is doing it needs courageous leaders. It needs leaders who are able to know exactly what they are selling and who are able to recognize, in time, that their customer has changed. The New York Times has earned its position in our CX Bold Moves Series for doing all of this and not having an identity crisis.

We see brands in such crisis every day. Brands that are holding on to the image of their past customer or who are so afraid of change that they say they say they are investing in a digital transformation, but all they do is hire a Digital Transformation Director with no support infrastructure around the role.

46% average annual growth only happens when an organization is focused on that goal and when leadership and funding are appropriately allocated to this big, bold, transformational move. The New York Times clearly has that focus and courage. Do you?

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston

On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover since it has varied customer experience applications depending on a brand’s growth cycle, customer base and business challenges. Companies like eBay place big bets on AI, while others use natural language processing (AI) only to build smart chatbots.

Regardless of their approaches all companies have one thing in common – they all need to prepare for AI implementation by having a comprehensive data strategy with flexible architecture and a lot of storage. This is the missing piece for most companies. Organizations have different reasons for lacking intelligent data. Some brands are too young and have homegrown systems that need major overhauls to even scale for the growth of the companies. Others have more robust data repositories, but have been built without the customer as the common unit.

There is a third scenario: companies that have third party CRM systems that also host the data. This makes it almost impossible to have the end-to-end data to use for building personalized experiences. It is important to learn the necessary foundations so when you meet with sales reps you can recognize the option that will fit your technology needs.

Another foundational and somewhat counter-intuitive aspect of applying AI is the need for humans. The biggest misconception about AI is that it will “remove jobs”. Meanwhile, customer experience leaders are all struggling to persuade CFOs to fund new teams of data scientists, people who would tag existing data, or people who watch for the “triggers” to use the data. Once this is done, brands will need data councils to add new elements or to design new uses of AI. Companies will always need more people to manage AI effectively.

Lastly, we all want to build solutions that will save operating costs today and enable a future customer experience transformation. So when we build, we need to think about scaling and building further, with the customer at the center.

There are still questions we need to answer. How do we begin the process (especially without much funding)? How can we make AI a reality and not just talk about it? What are the tradeoffs (if any) that we will have to make in the process?

Stay tuned for the next post on AI.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Where Should CX Sit at the Table?

Before we begin talking about where CX should sit in the organization, I want to clarify one thing. Customer Experience is not a single person. 

A company cannot hire one customer experience professional and expect that in a year that company will have a customer-centric corporate culture in place. CX also is not a team that has no visibility and no budget. No one has ever heard of a business successful transformation without extensive change management implications done and without vision and strategy. CX requires individuals and teams with cross functional workshops, new products and processes and heavy communications across the organization.

A CX team needs the leadership support to deliver all of those to the brand and the organization. So where in the organization should CX sit? Leadership teams across industries and geographies are trying different suboptimal approaches.

IT

Last year a non-profit health insurance company in New York approached me to ask for feedback on their CX set up. They were planning to set the CX team under the CIO. Since the corporate staff was not big, the role of CX would have been fairly elevated. Still, I advised against that organizational structure.

A customer experience transformation cannot be led by IT for several reasons. Although the world today is more and more digital, brands still are in the business of making the human, long lasting connection with the customers that will drive more sales. Our IT partners are excellent at executing a program and can definitely help with the UX part of the job, but they are not marketers or operators.  Asking IT to drive CX is just not the right choice. There is no doubt that CX cannot exist without IT. But that does not mean IT needs to lead it.

Marketing

Marketing (or in some organizations “product”) is the most common set up for CX in brands’ corporate organizations. Media and consumer goods companies usually take this approach.  At first look it makes sense to set CX in marketing. After all the purpose of CX is to deliver on the brand promises made by marketing.

This could almost work if brands did not bury my CX peers deep down in the organization so they turn into journey mapping documentation gatherers with no real impact. One fast food brand in Europe actually had the role of Head of Brand Engagement under the CMO and then had four other leaders reporting to that role, one of which was the CX Director. That CX Director was competing with the other three directors with similar roles for a piece of the authority pie.  This is equivalent to giving somebody a problem to solve with no tools to do so.

HR

One Financial Services institution in the US had arguably the least impactful set up. They actually put CX under HR! Please, do not mix customer experience with HR. I know that we all talk about the importance of employee engagement to the successful delivery of exceptional brand experiences. Although happy employees and customer-centric culture are requirements for a CX driven organization, CX is much more than that.

For a CX group to have impact and drive change, it needs to be in the customer facing part of the organization. The CX professionals need access to the customer to learn what is working and what is not. They need access to the operations to change processes and procedures. Lastly, CX professionals need tools like IT and Marketing to deliver new solutions and communicate those solutions to the customer. HR offers none of those enablers to a CX transformation.

Customer Experience

An organization that is really committed to putting the customer at its center will build (reorg) the governance structure to reflect that commitment. That means having a Customer Experience Executive that has all the customer facing divisions under him/her and funding this organization appropriately.

If that means taking funding from other parts of the organization, so be it. As a brand this signals to both the investors and the employees that a real shift of the corporate mindset is taking place. With that set up, customers also will feel the change and will reciprocate with their loyalty. To do CX right, that is the way to do it – not by hiring one person buried in the org with no seat at the table, just to check off a mark.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Autonomous Customers, Traveler Privacy and More Questions for CX Professionals in a Changing World

“As we move toward a more automated culture, most travelers will adapt to a Jetsonian, automated lifestyle.  Every industry we know will be disrupted.  For those of us in aviation, this signals the shift from aviation as a service industry to a transactional one that is potentially devoid of the personal touches that made the romance of flight an event.”

As I am boarding my flight to Denver today to speak at the AAAE Conference on “Autonomous Airports,” I can’t help but question, what does autonomous airport really mean.  The customer experience value of an airport itself is not autonomous.  Rather, the emerging autonomous airport experience aims to give birth to, enable and empower autonomous customers.

That brings about even more questions for CX professionals, particular customer experience professionals in the aviation world.

What is an autonomous customer?

The autonomous customer uses his/her time better and has more of it. Today we have a “holding room” at airport gates. Holding room… even the term itself sounds limiting.

What is a customer supposed to do in a holding room?  Be on hold?

Autonomous airports are open spaces with no physical or process boundaries between the individual customer touch points (check-in, bag drop, etc.).  As a result, there also is no barrier between crewmember and customer. Eliminating barriers in autonomous airports shifts the power from the airport procedures and processes to the traveler. This makes travel more enjoyable.

Because of this customer experience-driven design, the autonomous customer can go through the experience at his/her own pace.  The autonomous customer is not “held” anywhere. The airport becomes a menu of tools and services that the autonomous customer is empowered to choose to use or not. Who would not want to do that?

What about Grandma’s journey?

Autonomous airports enable both customers and crewmembers. A roving crew has access to much more information and tools on the go that enable them to take care of the needs of all customers of all ages, particularly those who do not want to or are unable to do so themselves.

Maybe the first time, Grandma will be intimidated (although not all grandmas are alike!) by the autonomous airport environment, but she will quickly get used to and appreciate the self-driving device that can whisk her and her bags from one gate to another in a few minutes.

What about my privacy? Does autonomy mean my airline knows everything about me?

Autonomy is also about accountability.  On both sides. Customers want information and adequate services at the right times.  It is impossible for any brand to deliver that without access to certain customer information or preferences.

Customers also want seamless journeys across the airport. To design that airlines and airports need access to certain customer history. For example, if you want the airline to wait for the customer one extra minute at the gate, the airline needs to know that the customer is physically at the airport. Even more so, the airline should know whether the customer has passed security already.

In the case of JetBlue’s autonomous airport CX design, Bag Buddy, one of my ideas, was designed to pick up customer bags at their homes and transport them directly to their destinations. That seamless movement of objects and people lays on the foundations of data sharing. More specifically, it rests on good data that is appropriate and useful in delivering the experience customers want.

Questions remain, and as CX experts continue to design autonomous airports and meet the needs of the autonomous customer, new questions will arise.  For now, let me demystify the autonomous airport for you. At the heart of the autonomous airport, from the CX perspective, is the information that will allow the airport as a physical asset to expand its boundaries and reach people’s homes. Data allows physical boundaries to merge and creates one big experience of transporting people and their belongings across space. That is a future we all want, Jetsons fans or not.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Design – Make the Customer Know Who You Are

Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings it is time to take care of the aesthetics and connect customer experience to the brand identity. T5 is an expression of the JetBlue brand. When customers enter the space they feel and know that they are flying JetBlue and not another airline. How can you make customers know without a doubt that they are experiencing your brand?

Know your brand!

At first pass, know your brand is self-explanatory, but you would be surprised by how many professionals believe that only the marketing department needs to know brand identity. In today’s digital and mobile world every member of a company must know the brand. Without a deep understanding of the brand you represent, you are a blind painter. How can you even begin to express values and beliefs you do not know and understand? Know your brand. If you don’t, find a way to learn it! Now.

Convince your CFO that brand equity funding is long term investment

If many people do not know the brands they work for, even fewer fail to understand the fragile nature of brand equity. If you go to your CFO tomorrow and ask for funding to “infuse the brand” in whatever physical or digital experience you are building, you will be asked for the ROI on this undertaking. You will also be told that it feels like this “brand stuff” is a “nice to have,” not a “must have” feature.

If there is one moment when you can self-destruct the business case of Customer Experience it is the moment you agree with this statement. The right answer is “Investment in the brand side of customer experience is a must-have feature because without reinvestment in the brand equity, the customer will not connect the experience you have built with the brand you represent.”

Treat your brand with the same empathy you treat your employees and customers

If your brand is strong, it has personality. If it has personality, you can treat your brand as a person – with empathy and care. JetBlue’s persona is smart, fresh and stylish. As the CX designer, I translate this to edgy and innovative, taking a modern view – chic and modern, regardless of time. What does that mean during the design phase? Obsession over every detail.

Details make the customer experience memorable and unique. Nothing is too small for the CX designer to touch. The kiosks in T5 are slim, white and without the “catcher” boarding passes. Brand-driven decisions and compromises made this happen. Crewmembers would have preferred wider kiosks to lay down their cups of coffee. They also would have preferred another color that does not require as much cleaning. Customers would have preferred the metal, functional and protruding catcher for the boarding passes.  The brand persona did not fit with any of those functional needs, so they are not in the lobby today.

Without attention to details the look and feel of the T5 lobby would not have screamed JetBlue the way it does now. By respecting the brand identity the design came out sleek and customers tweeted praise for the design, comparing it to Apple.

Location, location, location

How the customer experience touchpoints are sequences also can express brand identity. JetBlue is “nice.” Flying with JetBlue is a “nice experience.” JetBlue is “human and comfortable.” So when the decision was made to invest in custom-made repack stations with integrated scales, we took the brand identity into consideration. The table could have been made more cheaply out of metal. It would not have made the experience “nice.”

Instead, customers would have felt either like they were in a factory or, best case scenario, in surgery. The tables also were conveniently build in close proximity to the new real “Bag Drop” to it more comfortable for customers to move between the two touch points.

Customer experience professionals must be the loudest brand ambassadors and brand managers. CX professionals deliver on the promises the brand marketers communicate in their campaigns. Without this link and without that collaboration, customer experience feels disconnected, or worse.

As a customer experience professional, you must own the brand equally to the marketers and serve the brand’s values. Without that, you are delivering a customer experience without a soul and you are missing the opportunity to build a deep, meaningful, memorable connection with the customer – the ultimate goal of every brand.

Image courtesy as featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX design brand goals JetBlue Liliana Petrova CX

CX Design – How Do You Want Customers To Feel?

Last week we talked about CX Design in terms of space and function. Today  we continue our CX design journey to talk about the design of feelings. The new look of the JetBlue T5 lobby enabled customer experience interactions in more open air space for both customers and crewmembers.

 

The next part of the design drives the make or break of ROI. It is also the most overlooked.  Meeting the functional needs of customers is only the base of the experience pyramid, but most brands stop there, believing that meeting those basic functional customer needs is enough to deliver great customer experience. In his book Harley Manning revisits the three levels of the CX pyramid  – “meet needs,” “easy,” “enjoyable.”

 

To design great customer experience like we did with the T5 project, we jump right to the top of the pyramid, working on making our customers say “I feel [blank] about this experience.” Who you fill in that blank depends on your brand and culture values.

 

How do you want them to feel?

 

It is important to think through the emotions you are designing, since those emotions will trigger repeat business. As Maya Angelou said “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That memory is both a risk and an opportunity to create a long lasting relationship with your customers. When we were designing the lobbies, the customer experience team wanted our customers to feel efficient, taken care of, empowered and smart enough to do things themselves without help. We knew the goal – create simple, personal and helpful customer experience. All we had to do was think about what that means in terms of emotion.
 
How big is the change you are introducing? Are you adding enough new customer experience elements that compensate for the discomfort of the ones you are removing?
 

Start with the change management.  When we removed the podiums at the lobby, we essentially took away our crewmembers’ comfort zone – their anchor, their place to hold personal items. This change was disruptive to their daily lives. It was important that, as we took away tools, we also needed to give crewmembers new ones to make them feel heard and understood. So we designed the hospitality training – a CX soft training with standards and tips on how to interact with customers and keep the brand promises we have made.

 

With the hospitality training, JetBlue crewmembers had the cultural/brand guidelines of service delivery that perfectly complemented the new space we built. One of the whys informed us that the only thing a “Bag Drop” position should do is check IDs and scan boarding passes and bag tags. Podiums and computers were replaced with Blackberries to do just that and the transaction times at bag drop dopped in half.  Customers spent 30 seconds dropping their bags and continuing on their (CX) journey. The lines disappeared. The negative comments about long lines in our VOC surveys also disappeared. We had a drop of 65% of any mention of “long queues”.

 

 
Does your corporate culture support the internal disruption you are creating?
 
Since we completely disrupted the working place of our crewmembers we needed to think about the soft side of this innovation. At the time, we were the first airline in North America to remove podiums at bag drop. This is where JetBlue’s culture is a true differentiator. The CX design did not stop with the Customer. It included the crewmember. We treated our employees as customers. We spent equal time deliberating how to design (and pay for) the new bag drop positions to minimize the functional changes in the lives our crewmembers. For example, where would they leave their phones, purses, wallets when they worked? We built drawers in the blue arcs above the intake bag belts to meet that need. The thinner design matched better the overall open space approach of the lobbies. Despite that, we built them thicker, making the tradeoff between brand look and function to manage the customer experience of our crewmembers and their acceptance of change.

 

 
The design of exceptional/memorable/unique customer experiences requires empathy. To connect as a brand to your customer, you need to go beyond meeting the functional needs of your customer. Making the experience easy is very hard. No doubt about that. But ease only connects with the rational side of your customers. To generate more ROI through CX, you need to also create a positive emotion that will trigger the irrational decisions to (hopefully) pay for your product or service at a premium next time. Not only because it was seamless, but because they want to relive that feeling again. You will be one of the few brands that is not just offering a product or a service.  You are offering amazing customer experience – you are a well oiled machine for feelings.
 
Image courtesy of JetBlue
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Why I Don’t Love Chat Bots

Today, we tackle the value proposition that chat bots are more valuable to companies than customers. I reject this.  The ROI simply is not there, especially since better customer experience is not there. I have experienced both fully automated bots and “augmented” service agents interactions using the chat channel, and neither delivers on the promises of chat bots as the game-changing resource we all need.

For our blog we use a photography subscription service. They push chat support heavily. When I used it, it was slow. The person either did not know English well enough or was multi-tasking several chats, but it felt like he was not present. On occasion, it felt like he was not answering the question I was asking, but rather providing a generic response. The base for effective communication is connection. When I felt unheard by the “support,” my frustration almost led me to drop the service (there are plenty of options for photography sources). Suddenly the chat offering threatens to cause the loss of a customer… and the organization PAID for it, for its integration, monthly support fees etc. I do not like that. It makes no sense.

empathetic response ai photos

AI presentation photo by Liliana Petrova, CCXP

Let’s talk about the fully automated chat bots. Allegedly, this is where companies see the real efficiencies. Again, no real value for customers unless the automated chat function allows them to fully self-serve. The problem is, the fully automated chat bot today is stupid. It can perform only very distinct functions.

The customer faced with a chat immediately tenses up with anxiety. He/she knows that the chances are pretty high he/she will have to channel switch pretty soon. How many bot interactions have you had that allowed you to solve your problem without switching to a human? Chat bot is supposed to deliver customer-centric experience. It is supposed to be customer directed, but the customer feels anxious that the minute the bot gets “stupid,” the customer loses control of the experience. Suddenly, the power is with the bot.

What is the future for chat bots? Disturbing is a word that comes to mind. Soul Machines is the company to check for the preview. They have developed a digital human that has a BRAIN built on a virtual nervous system. Now that is equally exciting and terrifying. It reminds me of the AI empowered female voice that sounds like a human one (the digital human is also female…just saying). It will take some time before the digital human agent becomes the norm, but one thing is for sure, the next version of “stupid bot” will have empathy.

According to Forrester, 60% of us prefer not to use a chat bot at all. I bet you if you ask why, you will also hear that the bots just stupid. So how can chat bots become smarter? We are back to the data conversation. Chat bots are as smart as the power and scope of the underlying data they can pull/learn from. In the case of the JetBlue customer experience team, without an integration to our reservation system, the chat bot cannot change or re-book a passenger’s ticket. Until then. customers will keep reading “please speak to an agent.” That is hardly a way to feel the love.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Design Makes Form and Function Beautiful – and Cosmopolitan Magazine Notices

At its core, design means value creation. In the world of Customer Experience design means to empathetically imagine a future customer experience that is easy, fast, and seamless. The actual design can be building a new lobby or changing an existing customer-facing process that takes too long, or simplifying an internal procedure that prevents employees from solving customers’ problems quickly. Due to its importance, CX design is also one of the six disciplines that the CCXP exam covers. Any CX professional must feel accountable and responsible for CX design. It is our job to design and to to prove the ROI of that customer-centric design. All of this can feel overwhelming. How can one person solve all of these structural problems in a creative way? Where do you even begin?
 
What do you want the customer to do?
 
You begin with the process. Current, future – gaps. In the JetBlue lobby case, before we even began building T5 we met with the industrial engineers to go over the mechanics of the space. “We want movement. No queues.” Airports and airlines both share that goal. But that is too generic of a statement to allow for a design solution.
 
The questions you need to ask and answer at this first phase of CX design are “Why is there no movement today? Why are people waiting on line?” and then use the 5 whys technique to really understand what you need to address in your design in order to create movement. In our lobbies we had long lines at the “Bag Drop” position. Often, the express “Bag Drop” line was even longer than the “Full Service” line that offered more services, leaving customers and crewmembers frustrated.
 
Photo: JetBlue
The original plan to address the bad customer experience was to introduce self-tagging kiosks in the lobby. If only customers could print their own bag tags, all the lines would be gone. At first look that sounded logical, until I remembered . The Goal teaches to look for the bottleneck of any operation and to chase it all the way down/out of the system. Instead of building the business case only for kiosks, I kept thinking about the end-to-end journey of the customer. Not surprisingly, when we asked our 5 whys we quickly found out the root cause that we needed to solve with the future CX design.
 
Kiosks were not enough. I had to go farther.
 
We never had bag drop positions. Functionally, there was nothing different between the bag drop position and the full service position. Customers would go to the fast lane and clog it with questions or needs that required our crewmembers to act as a full service desk, holding the line for up to 15 minutes per customer. As CX Designer, I solved that by stripping all the full service functionality from the bag drop position. I removed the computers. Then I removed the podiums.  I gave our crewmembers a completely different environment to operate in, disabling them from ever functioning again as full service desks. Featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, the new design empowered them to deliver personal, helpful and simple experience by removing the physical barrier between them and the customers thus creating an open environment that ignites conversations.
 
Creative thinking, process mindset and empathy are the key ingredients to building CX journeys (experiences) that will differentiate your business and make your customers come back for more. People do exactly what you design them to do. The good news is you are in charge. There is no such thing as overthinking design. Keep imagining all the things that can go wrong and then amend your design accordingly. Enjoy the art of CX design!
 
Featured Image Courtesy of Cosmopolitan Magazine
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

How to Sell the C-Suite on Customer Experience

You finally got your big career break and you are leading a project that requires executive approval. Now what? Intuitively you know that this is a chance to make a first impression on the right people, but you have no idea how to approach this process. There is no set procedure and your leader can be good or bad at this, so going to your boss might not be the first right step. Where do you begin?

Overcommunicate – Know your audience

Begin by scheduling pre-briefings with each individual executive. Do not forget the Chief Counsel or the Chief HR Executive. When it comes to the Exec Crew, every function weighs equally. You never know who might help (or block) your business case. If you are asking for millions of dollars to build CX expertise in the enterprise, or to finally connect underlying systems that yield bad customer experience, you might find that the Chief HR executive is so passionate about customer experience that he/she is the loudest voice in the room.

Your job does not end here. You also need to assess the political capital of each executive. Who has been on the team the longest? Who has the strongest ties to the Board of Directors? The networking power of leaders can be stronger than the hierarchy of power.  It is invisible, but it cannot be underestimated.

Nothing is decided in the executive meeting/board room

The moment you realize this you will increase your success of obtaining funding for CX initiatives. You also will realize how much more work you have ahead of you to put the CX roadmap on your organization’s priority list.

The executive meeting is the ink meeting. It is the show. The real approvals and conversations that you need take place before that meeting. If these conversations do not take place, nothing gets approved. Many times, I have peers bring business cases to the executive committee without “pre-socializing” them. In the meeting, they are asked various business and political questions that they are unable to answer and nothing gets accomplished. The best case scenario is to get that approval “pushed” to the next meeting. One thing is for sure: no money or support is gained that day.

Cover all your bases

Never underestimate the power of the VPs and Directors. If you think you only need to sell CX to an executive to introduce the customer as a mindset, you are very wrong. The first thing a good Executive does is turn to his VPs and Directors and say “What do you think about this?” If you have not sold your agenda to them, the conversation is over.

Think of this work as an election campaign. Assess the benefits of each stakeholder or group in your organization. If there are losers in the landscape who, by design, will hurt, you need to acknowledge that every chance you get, in public. And you must thank them for sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

Have the keys to the gate

The Executive Assistants must be your friends. All. of. them. I know it is basic, but somehow, people still fail to follow this principle. Access is everything. Without it you have no voice, no audience. Take care of them every holiday season. Even without an occasion. Just do it.

Getting executive buy-in is not easy, but it is not an impossible task. Remember: think like a CX expert, know your Customer, personalize your message, and express empathy when you deliver your pitch. People want the same things, regardless of the setting – to be heard, considered and respected. Remember this, and design your approach accordingly.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Brand Image ROI

Two weeks ago we discussed the power of employee engagement for your brand and the true meaning and ROI of a working corporate culture. Today we will examine the business case of the engaged customer, the powerful brand image and the brand loyalty it generates – loyalty that drives repeat purchases, higher revenues and more engaged customers.
 
An engaged customer requires the investment of the ongoing conversation. The “conversation” dollars go to social media campaigns, closed-loop systems for customer feedback, and a responsive loyalty customer service, among other customer experience levers.
 
Invest in people as much as product
 
Two weeks ago, I received a complaint from a JetBlue customer. In order to keep the conversation going with this customer, I had to relay the information to the teams that were accountable for his experience and get back to him with a comprehensive and empathetic feedback about his experience. CX professionals call this close loop, but close loop is a policy. My taking the effort to connect with people across the organization and CARING to get answers is employee engagement on my part, and that is generated by our corporate culture.
 
This culture is what maintains customer engagement and, which, as a result will create an ancillary purchase in the future. Often, people and service are more important than the product of an organization.  People and service build an organization’s brand image when customers interact with the brand. Customer experience relies more on human interactions with the brand than on the technology that enables those interactions.
 
Empathy and Innovation
 
Magazine Luiza is another great example of impacting ancillary sales and seeing a 35% ROI as a result of deliberate investment in empathy and innovation.  The Brazilian virtual store offers products on credit to the under-served customers in rural areas. Customers can see pictures of their desired products then go home and wait for the delivery in the next 48 hours.
 
To achieve loyalty and repeat business, Magazine Luiza also functions as community centers that offer free internet, literacy, cooking and basic banking classes. This investment contributed to the build out of a strong emotional connection between the brand and its audience, transforming Magazine Luiza into a powerful lifestyle brand to its customers. Even customers apprehensive of taking credit visit a place where a friendly face walks them through the experience of borrowing money while their child learns how to write for free.
 
The brand image of growth and development that come from the education components Magazine Luiza provides is, in a way, transferred to the “product” of buying on credit.  Once customers are empowered to buy on credit initially, they return to buy more things because each of those purchases makes them feel economically empowered.
 
Engaged customers are the blood of every business
 
Without engaged customers, business cannot grow. They provide the steady cashflow and the free cashflow that allow a business to invest in products and customer acquisition. The ROI of engaged customers lies in the growth of the organization and the incremental revenue that ensues. Depending on the growth stage of a particular organization, that ROI also can mean an organization’s survival.
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

How Do You Know You Are Making The Right Big Bet?

the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

In the last post for JetBlue’s Into the Blue blog series on customer experience lessons learned in 2017, Liliana Petrova and her guests explore different ways to envision the future so you can build it effectively.

“Don’t tie it to technology, tie it to an aspiration.” is the advice of Allegra Burnette, former Forrester consultant.

Liliana’s and JetBlue’s leap into the unknown is using micro-innovation and empathy to create consistent memorable experiences for the customer at every possible interaction.

Read more and watch the video.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement

In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI post covered how a well built customer experience can increase revenue and customer growth of your organization. Today we will walk you through the positive impact customer experience has on employee engagement.
 
Great Culture is the Enabler of Great Service
 
Excellent corporate culture creates engaged employees who are proud of their company and make it a personal mission to deliver great experiences. Engaged employees love the brand they work for so much that they will go above and beyond to “convince” their customers to feel the same way. Actions like this transform employees from brand ambassadors to brand builders. When leadership takes the time to build and maintain an engaged workforce the impact is significant, and profitable.
 
Yet, if culture is of such high value to organizations, why do so few succeed in creating this kind of customer experience advantage for their organizations? Because it is hard, and expensive.
 
Let’s say your cultural values have FUN in them. How do people live that value at work? They celebrate holidays with social events, they go on interesting off-sites, they  have fun contests in the operation, etc. Each of these cultural artifacts of the fun value costs money. Most leaders will say they believe in the fun value; very few will approve the expenses for the discreet activities that maintain that value.  When companies grow, all those activities include the added expenses of travel in order to connect employee teams.
 
Culture is Not an HR Function
 
Culture cannot be achieved with all-hands meetings twice a year and a daily corporate communications email. Culture is a business strategy, a guiding principle that informs how product and service decisions are made. If, for instance, CARING is part of your corporate culture, there are several business decisions and practices you need to invest in to express that care (internal funds for supporting fellow employees during hurricanes, sponsor travel so senior leaders can visit front line employees to better understand their day-to-day challenges, willingness to walk away from a product enhancement that will benefit the customer but also make your front life processes more complex and hard to maintain).  Caring costs money. Real money. Caring is even more expensive than FUN.
 
Caring can save an organization. If you have a product that is not the market leader in terms of quality and you marry it with an engaged workforce that delivers exceptional service, you actually have a shot at keeping your position as the market leader. If you don’t, there is not much going on to motivate your customers return.
 
How Do You Quantify the ROI?
 
It is fair to say that all the people who returned to you after an exceptional service experience would not have done so without having received that exceptional service. Quantify the lifetime value of those customers, and that is how you calculate your customer experience ROI.
 
Culture is a Critical Corporate Mindset
 
People are hired for culture in the true sense of that expression. If transparent leadership and instilling employee trust are values for leaders, then the pay scales of the organization should not be locked for only selected people to see. Transparency is a big word that is often repeated, but transparency is rarely backed by actions like this.
 
If transparency is on a corporation’s values list, then that corporation’s leaders must be ready to be vulnerable and to be challenged by their employees. With the right mindset, this is not a difficult value to live. Being authentic and “walking the talk” can inspire more than any other corporate action can. Transparency and vulnerability is a challenging mindset for leaders, but it gets easier to practice over time, and it is worth the investment.
 
Generally speaking, employees want to (prefer to) respect their leaders. We all need hope, we need someone to look up to, something to keep us moving forward. Employees are much more forgiving and patient with their leaders than we think, so apply a brave mindset to lead wholeheartedly. Be seen and be prepared to have an organization follow you no matter where you lead through the culture you create and the actions that support it.
 
Successful brands have strong corporate cultures that drive their employees to consistently deliver memorable experiences. Culture is the most difficult ROI to prove. It is impossible to replicate, so it can be a competitive advantage. It can also be a deterrent to hostile takeovers and mergers. Having the freedom to grow organically while creating value for customers is the greatest return on investment any business can dream of. In that sense, the ROI of culture is the highest we will ever see.
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.
AI

How Smart Do Humans Want AI To Get?

Last month we covered the basics of AI and what it is in theory. Today we will talk more about the existing practical applications of AI and reflect on what that means to us. We will also share some caution about AI, which, similar to IoT does not have existing laws to follow due to the speed of its development. It is a fact that there is no real regulation on IoT products today and there are cases filed against familiar brands like Bose.  Last month I bought my team Google home minis to inspire a culture of innovation. Sometimes I wonder… what exactly did I buy them?
 
Currently, one of the most impressive real expressions of AI is the voice-generating AI that is indistinguishable from humans. Now that is a real capability that can generate significant efficiencies in call centers (given that you have the clean data and the cloud enabled applications to power the “brain” of the AI).
 
The AI voice re-imagines the how of the interactive component of the customer experience. The innovation part is that, to the customer, there is no real change in the emotions they experience during the call. The customer still hears a friendly female voice. This AI application does to the call center what the touch screen did for cell phones in 2007.
 
Keep in mind that as you converse with the friendly female voice, the AI that powers it is learning – it is getting smarter and smarter. The question is how smart can AI get. A better question, how smart do humans want AI to get? We all have heard the story of Frankenstein. If we are not careful, we might build our own replacement.
 
If you think I am exaggerating, listen to Elon Musk who has been cautioning us against AI for years. “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that… I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.” We should most certainly embrace the future. However, we need to make sure we keep the control. With regulation and legal framework speed we might build the guardrails too late. Let’s also not forget that the master computer voice in Terminator, like those used in call centers, was female. I wonder if that is just a coincidence….
 
AI is not capable only of generating voice. It is able to “read” and to analyze human voices in a manner we have never seen. The term for this is “voice profiling.” Apparently, humans cannot detect the data/information in our voices the way AI software can. So the next time your bank asks you if you consent to record your voice for “additional security” on your account, think twice (too late for me… the TD Bank AI already has filed me away). The advancement went as far as creating a face to the voice in December. “Your voice is like your DNA  or your fingerprint.” according to Rita Singh. Thanks to today’s advanced algorithms and the large computing power available, our DNA is out in the digital space, ready to be “profiled.”
 
The reach of AI goes beyond customer service and personal banking. AI is now making hiring decisions today. Companies use AI technologies to shift through the large volume of online resumes they receive. Ostensibly, AI creates a leveled ground for all candidates and alleviates existing biases during interviews. An industry has emerged predicting either candidates’ skills based on online clues in the case of Fama or on their actions through Entelo that “guestimates” who is likely to leave a job. The situation gets creepier when we start talking about companies like HireVue. On the surface, HireVue’s solutions sound innovative  – “databased, unbiased talent decisions.” In reality, HireVue has the potential to read our faces when we speak and determine whether we are not truthful. No more saying at an interview you are leaving your current employer to pursue further development. HireVue will know you did not get along with your boss, or that you hate banking. A world in which we cannot have our internal lives sounds like a scary and lonely place.
 
What is next for the brave new world? According to the cofounder and CEO of Nvidia Huang it is “… the ability for artificial intelligence to write artificial intelligence by itself.” In other words humans will no longer be needed or even capable of running the new technology since it will be beyond our capacity to comprehend or manage. I don’t want to go back to Terminator and the Transformers, but it is hard not to see the resemblance in the plots. On the bright side, one can make a fortune in the next decade investing in those underlying technologies that will be running themselves or us in the future. This is how Huang made his fortune. We can always follow in his footsteps.
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.
eBay

CX Bold Moves: eBay’s Vibrant Marketplace of the Future

Two years ago RJ Pittman and eBay made a big bet and made AI (artificial intelligence) a core discipline of the company, similar to brand marketing and sales. The organization was able to focus and build upon existing technologies to create a truly personalized experience on eBay. This is the definition of a big bet, and the reason why eBay is part of our CX Bold Moves series.

In the retail world of RJ Pittman, the conversational commerce does more than assist us in buying an outfit, it uses predictive analytics and AI to design the outfit if it does not exist anywhere in the world.  Now that is the ultimate personal relationship any brand can have with a customer. Once eBay is able to consistently deliver this value proposition to the customer and to scale it for the 3Bn online users today, Amazon will finally have a match – and become less ubiquitous.

How did eBay get here?

“Don’t start from the tech, start from the experience and start with transformative experiences that your customers will feel…” is how RJ Pittman summed up his approach at the Forrester conference in San Francisco this fall.  eBay is an excellent case study of a brand that followed the principles for self-service that we laid out last week – the brand will enable the customer of the future to post and sell any item without any effort or friction. Through computer vision, deep science looking at images, real time pricing, conversational commerce with interactions, and a world price guide, eBay is building an AI-enabled ecosystem that will have the power to create many real personalized experiences for all of us.

What about the eBay brand?

“The brand is the product is the brand” are the words of RJ Pittman that sum up the future of marketing. Today marketing is less about ad campaigns and more about a brand’s products and the customer experience that accompanies them. This year JetBlue achieved $33M of ad spend equivalency with its launch of facial recognition technology at the gate. This is much more brand exposure than an ad campaign. Without the existing social media and mobile technologies, that would have been impossible. But in the world in which we live, the brand is more about keeping and living the promises you have made as an organization and less about what those promises are.

This is an important note of caution for all those who have brand marketing and customer experience under two different executives. How are you ensuring that there is a real alignment between those two legs of your customer relationship?

What did eBay really do?

eBay applied technology to build a dream no one has imagined yet. The innovative brand did not merely optimize its responsive website (some of us actually even call responsive design digital revolution:( ), it invested heavily in a conversational commerce that will define how customers purchase in the future.

This disruptive strategy is not a science project. It is the birth/built of a vibrant marketplace of the future. Rik Reppe said on stage in San Francisco that courage, flexibility and imagination will make or break our efforts with AI. Listening to RJ Pittman it felt like he has all three of them. Do you?

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

new year tips doingcxright

What You Need To Do To Start 2018 Right

It is the end of December and we are all in reflective moods. Did I do enough to break into the field of Customer Experience? Did I build the right team with complementary skilled, engaged members? Did I do enough to build/maintain/scale the customer experience culture of my organization?

 

December is filled with doubts, feelings of failure and an urgent need to succeed. I can assure all of us with confidence that we all did what we could and that it is time to relax and spend some quality time with our loved ones. For any goals you did not achieve in 2017, there is always 2018 – so let’s make sure we start the new year right.

 

If you are a  job seeker
There are a few basic rules we learn in school that remain true throughout our careers. The steps for looking for a job are the same regardless of the level you are at. I know many Director level professionals who are looking for a job with a resume that has not been updated for the last ten years.

 

Write your resume (and bio if you are at a senior level). You are not too busy for that. This is one of the first steps we all have to take when we start a job search. The second step is to learn the language and concepts of the field you are pivoting intoCXPA is the best place to start that journey. If you join for $195 per year you will get access to a library of webinars, papers, experts, and a mentorship program that will allow you to connect with more senior professionals in the field who can help you with your education and job search.
By engaging with the customer experience community you might find that you are not as interested in your original goals search. Knowledge is power and that holds true in the job search process more than anywhere else.

 

For the team leaders
We all CARE about our teams. In , Frances Frei and Anne Morriss write that “[i]n most cases, the culprit is good people behaving badly, not bad people behaving badly.” Senior managers and directors do not want to be bad leaders. Unfortunately, many are. Why is that the case?  The answer is vulnerability.

 

Although it sounds like a cliché for those who still have not listened to Brene Brown’s TED Talk, it is worth spending twenty minutes this holiday season getting really comfortable with vulnerability. The hardest thing to do is to get your team together and ask each one of them what aren’t you doing well for them. Nobody is perfect and there are effort awards in life, even if we fail.

 

The fact that you show that you care will make your team appreciate you more. The difference between caring and showing that you care is demonstrating vulnerability. Give it a chance. 20 minutes.

 

For the organizations leaders
In the last few years. leaders have felt the pressure to master the meaning of customer experience culture. Depending on the maturity level of the organization the Chief Officers aim either to implement or scale their version of customer experience culture. Although we all know the theory, very few leaders walk the talk of culture.  The reason for that is that culture has real cost implications.

 

Leaders are struggling to meet the expectations of shareholders, employees and customers. On the surface, culture looks like a cost item that only covers employees. Very few leaders internalize and leverage the downstream effect of happy employees, happy customers, happy shareholders.

 

For the C-suit readers a TED Talk unfortunately would not be enough to prep for 2018. One of the favorite books of Warren Buffett, though, might be a good holiday read. will provide you with eight scenarios of what CEOs were able to accomplish when they did NOT listen to Wall Street. Capital allocation is not taught in our MBA programs and it is the biggest challenge that needs to be met before we start talking about culture (or the execution of culture).

 

Regardless of how you decide the spend the next two weeks, keep one thing in mind – the plan doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out before you start moving. Having the right aspirations and desires to be better versions of ourselves is more than half the battle. If you are reading this, that means you are striving to be better in 2018. That means you will. Onward and upward we all go!
*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Is AI Really The Answer?

Earlier this week we shared some of the pitfalls of implementing  self-service and highlighted the importance of strategic and empathetic implementation.  AI (artificial intelligence) is one of the self-service tools in the customer service professional toolbox today. It is also one of the new buzzwords, together with blockchain (for the curious ones  – my favorite explanations of blockchain are this video and this article).

The primary current positioning of AI is in call centers. The value proposition is that with AI, companies will empower customer service employees to make better decisions/recommendations, thus increasing employee engagement. Additionally, through AI, organizations will achieve significant ROI by automating the role of the customer agent (in JetBlue’s case, the crewmember) and scaling customer support without incremental headcount.

So what exactly is AI? Do you really understand what this technology can and cannot do? If you do not, keep reading as all working professionals today should understand at least the basics of AI. If you are like me, you probably get 100 sales emails every week telling you that you are running late and must leverage AI in your call centers. But do you really need AI? What problem do YOU need to solve? And is AI the best way to do that for your company?

Last month I was invited by Execs In the Know to join their AI Advisory Committee with the below mandate:

“The final group output will come in the form of a report. The exact nature of the report will be determined and framed by the group, but may include areas such as:

  • A summary of ways AI is enhancing CX channels
  • Best practices on where and how to start
  • Trends and technology in AI to improve service
  • ROI of current AI customer service initiatives
  • Perspectives and predictions about the future of AI and customer service”

This is no small mandate and it is encouraging that we have a group of professionals who are examining these questions before we all get ahead of ourselves with AI and compromise the ROI we all want so much.

The most common use of AI is ML (machine learning).  Basically, this is data mining and predictive learning on steroids that enables a computer to make decisions and interact with a human. With that basic understanding I already have a few questions to all the companies that are calling, emailing, inmailing etc., to offer me AI enabled solutions. Who, or rather what, is enabling those solutions? Is it my company’s data? Because if it is, I have a lot more work to do internally before I respond to those sales pieces.

Erik Brynjolfsson and  Andrew Mcafee provide a comprehensive explanation of what AI is and what it is not in their publication The Business of Artificial Intelligence. In it they state that AI technology is ready for implementation in the business world and that “[t]he bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.” I do have the business imagination, but I also am taking my time to know exactly what capability I am buying with AI. It might be cheaper to streamline processes and fix existing software tools or integrations to enable my employees to deliver excellent customer service, instead of paying for yet another software integration that makes decisions based on my bad data (since I would have prioritized the purchase of the expensive AI solution over cleaning my existing data).

Although it is clear that AI will be a solution that needs demonstrated ROI and employee adoption for success while it is learning, it is also clear that we cannot wait too long to get comfortable with this new technology. As Erik and Andrew say, one thing is pretty sure: “[o]ver the next decade, AI won’t replace managers, but managers who use AI will replace those who don’t”.

That is the exact reason I chose to join the AI Advisory Committee. More to come!

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

When Not To Invest In Self-Service Technology?

Every progressive brand today aspires to have more self-service. Very few implement self-service successfully. Self-service is a new tool to optimize a company’s workforce by removing transactions from the system. All industries are looking at self-service as a strategy of the future.

Hospitals, airlines, and hotels are installing kiosks to self check-in while grocery stores and taxi companies are implementing self-service check out with digital payment products. The list goes on and on. What differentiates a successful use of self-service as a building block of innovation from a failed implementation that adds more effort for the customer that leaves him/her angry and frustrated?

Successful self-service is self-sufficient. It enables customers to meet all their needs by themselves. If users can do only some of the steps of the whole process alone then self-service adds costs to the business, adds complexity and effort to the experience. For example, if a customer can print his/her food voucher when there is a delay, but cannot rebook him/herself (i.e. still needs to call customer service) then all the brand has accomplished is to add steps for the customer to get the same value he/she could have done before with ONLY a phone call.

Another thing to be aware of with self-service is what type of labor is optimized and what labor is part of the self-service solution. The business case of self-service might not work if the solution requires incremental (and expensive) IT resources while removing existing (and cheaper) unskilled resources. As Matthew Dixon says in  :  “[t]he challenge is not in getting today’s customer to try self-service. The challenge lies in getting today’s customer to avoid channel switching from self-service to a live phone call… the self-service battle isn’t about getting customers to go, it’s about getting them to stay.” It is important to launch the solution that solves all the needs of the customer before launching a technology solution to avoid getting the wrong results.

Design for 80% of the customer base, not the high touch 5% – 10%.  The 5% base solution is more expensive and most probably will break the business case.  Be ready for all the people who will question the design that will NOT cover 100% of the customers. Questions about the exceptions will keep coming up: “What is the customer does not have a credit card? What if the customer does not speak English? What if …?” The answer to all of them is: “They will go to the full service option at that touch point. They will not self-serve.” Be strong and keep the focus on the goals of self-service – to alleviate, not eliminate, the calls to the contact center; to allow the employees to offer a better service to those people who do not have a credit card and/or do not speak English. It is counterintuitive, but by not solving for them through self-service, we are building a better service for the exceptions as well.

Be brave! Some people will not like the self-service design. You will hear a lot of push back about de-humanizing the experience for the customers. Anjali Lai from Forrester studied the emotions of brand interactions (see below) and was able to show that there is no significant difference in the perception of the customers when they self-serve (from interacting with a live person).

What is more human? To have a human tell a customer that he/she is not able to solve the problem, because the process is not designed well or that they will be put on a brief call to speak to another person, or having self-service solutions that empower customers to create their own experiences in a personalized and independent way (without telling their names and confirmation numbers 2 or more times).

Self-service is an integral part of the future, but unless self-service is designed and executed in a strategic and empathetic manner it can drive more costs and complaints than savings and satisfaction. The basic value creation mandate is critical in this business strategy: unless self-service creates real value for the customer he/she will not embrace it.

So ask yourself, if you were the customer, would you gain anything from doing a task yourself vs. getting help from the company? As the company, do you gain anything by self-serving? Is it faster, easier or simpler? If you cannot answer yes to any of those questions, do not invest in self-service technology.

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Liliana Petrova in front of NYU Stern students

Am I A Good Candidate For A Customer Experience Role?

“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” – Unknown

People often ask me what experience they need to be a good fit for customer experience roles. When I spoke at NYU Stern recently, I was faced with the same questions. Students with varied backgrounds wanted to know if they were a good match for roles in my team.

Today, we go over the key skills that make you successful in a customer experience team, but keep in mind that you are in charge of your career and at selling yourself across disciplines and industries. Use this post as a guide, not as the sole source of your research.

Empathy

Although this is a soft skill, I believe empathy is the most important one for the role of customer experience professional. You can have all the technical skills in the world, but if you cannot walk in the shoes of your customers (or employees) you will fail to recognize their needs or to design intuitive experiences.

Without empathy you are blind and deaf to the service world.

The logical question is how do I know I have empathy? Try online personality self-assessment tests. You can even go with Briggs Myers as a start. When you take these quizzes, remember to be honest with yourself. If you do not score high on empathy, that does not make you a bad person, though it may be a good sign you should pursue a career that does not focus on customer experience.

Marketing

I am purposefully using the most generic marketing word in terms of roles and experiences here. Any type of marketing background helps make a successful customer experience professional. If you have marketing experience, that means you are aware of the notion of brand image, strategy and/or values.

Since these represent the guiding light for creating customer experiences that meet the promises made by the brand, you will be one step ahead of other candidates that must learn brand management thinking from the ground up as part of their customer experience job.

Critical thinking

I could have used the term “process thinking” here, but again I am leaving it more open to allow more of you to think of the transferrable skills you possess and how those translate to a successful customer experience career.

In the customer experience world, we assess and redesign processes through journey mapping (sequentially documenting each transaction between the customer with the brand as they consume the company’s product or services). For this reason, you will see process improvement, mapping, thinking as requirements for customer experience roles.
Even if you do not have those specific skills listed on your resume, you can still apply for a customer experience position if you are a critical and analytical thinker. My experience transforming the budget management process in National Grid in my first role after college was not part of a continuous improvement role, but it accomplished the exact same goal.

IT

A developer or an IT architect can absolutely become a customer experience professional! If you are empathetic and eager to be more customer-focused, I urge you to show your passion to your business stakeholders and work on transitioning to more customer-facing roles.

It may take time and the right partner on the business side, but the transition from IT to customer-facing roles is absolutely doable. I faced a similar challenge when I was trying to move from finance to marketing. It took time, but in the end, it happened. Having an individual from IT on a customer experience team is a great competitive advantage for a company. CX leaders who understand the cross-functional nature of integrated and memorable digital and in-person customer experiences will be open to welcoming an IT professional onto their team.

I told the NYU students that the customer experience professional role is a complex one that is exciting, and more challenging than many business roles. The cross-functional nature of the field, combined with the implied innovation and change management for success and impact require the customer experience team members to be comfortable with less formal structures than other career paths.

As customer experience professionals, we live in the gray with less overtly defined goals and objectives. We are entrepreneurs, change agents and disruptors. It can get lonely sometimes. But then again, show me a leaders who was not lonely at some point in his or her life.

Liliana Petrova

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Bold Moves: Uber Bets On Self-Driving Cars With Big Volvo Purchase

For anyone brave enough to imagine the future it is clear that autonomous vehicles are coming and that the flying cars taxi chase of The Fifth Element will be a reality soon after. The question that remains unanswered is who will be part of the future of transportation. More and more players are claiming a stake in the multibillion market place, but like any innovation the odds of winning are 50%/50% until the industry gets mature enough for us to even see what it will be. So who are you betting on? Uber? Lyft? Yourself?

The Uber bet

Uber is going for the vertical integration – the whole pie. The future industry of urban transportation will be made of players in three different categories: cars, self-driving software, and ride-sharing network. With the #UberVolvo deal Uber made a stake in the cars part of the equation. They already have the ride sharing network and the in house research and development of self-driving software. Every company struggles with the right balance of internal development vs. partnerships. There are pros and cons of either approach. The factors in the final decision are costs of maintaining the technology (capital vs. operating), level of customization available (much harder when the technology is built by a partner) and speed to market (depending on the staffing level of the internal teams the speed can be faster or slower if the R&D is internally driven). Uber is betting on taking all the risk and owning all parts of the autonomous vehicle ecosystem.

The Lyft bet

In contrast, Lyft approaches the future through partnerships. Their vision improving lives with the world’s best transportation inspires the creation of cities for people, not cars. In the last two years they have formed multiple partnerships with various small and big players in the new tech space. The choice of partners: Waymo, nuTonomy, Drive.ai (self-driving software) and the large direct investment by GM (cars), proves that Lyft plans to be an integral part of the autonomous vehicle solution (ride-sharing network), but not the whole technology stack. Their strategy is much more tactical in nature. Lyft does not need to build the whole future of urban transportation. It suffices to be the bolt without which the system will not function. The success of this approach is founded on successful partnerships and is collaborative in nature.

The George Hotz belt

And if you still want to own a car in the future, the self-driving platform Openpilot and the Neo device may be the way to go. The Neo will transform your Honda or Acura into an autonomous vehicle that you can control with Openpilot. George Hotz’s company Comma.ai has activated users to share driving data to perfect the self-driving algorithms for the future by learning from drivers today. In his opinion “Self-driving cars need nothing but engineers in order to solve it.”

The approach to autonomous vehicles of Lyft is more congruent with the sharing nature of the future economy. Sharing is rooted in partnering and collaborating with others. The future generations are less likely to associate themselves with a conglomerate that monopolized the market space. It looks like Lyft, although a smaller player, does have the more sustainable strategy to autonomous vehicles. Then again, we are missing a big piece of the puzzle. We really do not know how the government will play in this space and if it will come up with regulatory obstacles that require a lot of funding to overcome. Smart brands put equal time and energy in building partnerships with the government agencies. So far Uber is behind on that front too. Both Uber and Lyft are making bold moves in the autonomous vehicles space. The question is, who has the winning strategy?

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

 

 

self-boarding with facial recognition at a JetBlue gate.

CX Bold Moves: JetBlue Paperless And Deviceless Boarding

This year JetBlue entered the ranks of the innovators who disrupt industries and not only imagine the future, but also build it. With our award winning facial recognition boarding technology we were able to provide a preview to our customers of what traveling will be in the future. The fact that JetBlue’s facial recognition trial was named as one of the 100 greatest innovations of 2017 by Popular Science was one of the many signs we received about the excitement of the public about innovation in the airline space. JetBlue realized that our customers are not only ready, but also eager to step into a world of  new experiences that are personal, helpful, and simple.

So why is it so hard to eliminate the friction points on the travel journey and enable repeatable, intuitive, and empathetic experiences when we fly?

Variability is almost impossible to manage

In the book “Uncommon Service” Frances Frei and Anne Morriss lay a whole customer management process for successful brands. They present several examples of Progressive Insurance and Shouldice Hospital where through different processes these organizations are able to select the right customers for the experiences they have built. Airlines cannot do that. We cannot choose who we fly. Since the industry is driven by small margins, every customer flown counts. JetBlue’s mission bring humanity back in the air travel is driving us to welcome on board anybody who would like to fly us. And we consistently design all our product and experiences with that in mind!

Integrated experiences are based on integrated technologies

The future of flying is here only if we are able to integrate virtual reality and other technologies in a meaningful way that adds value. In JetBlue we are collaborating with JetBlue Technology Ventures and Strivr to test VR for training of our maintenance crewmembers.  The technology is more advanced in helping with decision making and not necessarily recreating the feeling of loading bags under the plane. For those immersive experiences the integration, build and scaling of the experiences is much more complex. Integrated and intuitive experiences are not hard to imagine, they are very complex to create and personalize.

Somebody has to pay for it

The moment we begin scaling and implementing customer journeys that use technologies of the future, we have to build the business case and its ROI. CFOs see customer experience design projects as process effectiveness work that increases output of existing infrastructure. Customer experience is much more than that of course, but knowing your audience is half the battle. Regardless if you agree with finance or no, you need the funding they hold. If you list the funding and maintenance requirements for a VR or a biometric solution very quickly you will see that to extract value from future technologies, you also need other future technologies to be cheaper. We all depend on a faster network (5G, 8G, 10G?) and even cheaper storage (cloud that is free to maintain and does not hit your operating expense every year?). Until that happens we probably will trial more and scale less.

We all share the excitement for the possibilities that new technologies like facial recognition and VR bring to us today. Some of us even venture to realize and share those possibilities with our customers. Customers have the power to add and co-design their experiences, which is really exciting too. In JetBlue we  used facial recognition boarding  to lead the industry. Our innovation was embraced by our customers and that is why we all won at the end!

# biometrics #facial recognition #VR #disruption # customer experience # game changer #NY Times #JetBlue

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

CX Bold Moves: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience

This month Starbucks closed its online store.  In April of this year Executive Chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz took a stand in front of his investors:  “Your product and services, for the most part, cannot be available online and cannot be available on Amazon.” In a time when brands are investing in omni-channel experience, Starbucks makes the bold move to close the foundational web channel and focus on the in-person experience.

How big is the risk Starbucks is taking of losing loyal customers who buy merchandise online? Companies like Ryanair and IndiGo designed check- in for flights primarily on their apps and their customers adapted accordingly.  Over time, customer behavior follows the design put in front of them.  Yes, some Starbucks customers will miss their pumpkin spice syrup. The loss of their loyalty though will free capital for Starbucks to create an even more seamless app experience and re-imagine its physical spaces. That sounds like a great trade off in the long run!

This is not the first bold move Starbucks has taken. In 2011 the brand dropped the name Starbucks and the word coffee from its logo.  Around the same time the company began testing its “evening program” and expanded its product offering to include wine and beer in select locations.  With those tactical moves the brand strategy emerged – Starbucks was trying to reposition itself as a lifestyle brand. In January 2017 we heard the last call on the alcohol idea. With the closing of the online store it is clear that the brand is on to the next approach toward the goal of lifestyle brand presence. Will the brand be successful this time?

Smart brands make bold decisions to drive the customer where they want him/her to be. The only way to drive customers to a desired channel is to take away their choices. As long as the choice is available, customers will make it.   It is clear that Howard Schultz wants us to be in his stores. But unless he gives us an immersive experiences with cleverly designed space we might not stay there long.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

How to talk to your CFO about customer experience and revenue growth

Last month we introduced the topic of Customer Experience ROI and the complexity of building a good business case for it. The Customer Experience business case is strong, but not easy to prove. Today we will dive deeper in two big wins of a successful customer experience investment – revenue and customer growth of your business.

Revenue Growth

Proving customer experience-driven revenue benefits is a surmountable challenge. It is a project that involves team members from each level of your team to engage cross functionally and build a comprehensive analysis with many assumptions and commitments in the future. While the doers build financial models, senior leaders need to get buy-in from their peers and put on paper the process and policy changes required for the desired impact of the future employee and customer experience.

The first step is to quantify what is the current customer experience.  Do you offer any self-service?  If you do not, do you expect call volume to go down once you implement self-service channels and products? How much in vouchers and credits are you giving out today to irate customers who had bad customer experience?  How much will that number go down if you build intuitive experiences and frictionless customer journeys? To do that you will need data from different systems governed by siloed teams. Once you get all the access you need comes the fun part – structure and connect the discreet data dumps to bring actionable customer insights to life. So arm yourself with patience and start those conversations.

Revenue benefits are not the only financial impact of a successful customer experience transformation. Explore cost benefits as well.  Redesign of customer interactions with your brand naturally will drive redesign of existing roles and introduction of new tools for employees to deliver seamless experience. These changes will bring cost benefits as well. Quantify the transactions you will eliminate and the value of the new services that the employees will be enabled to offer to customers in future state. This analysis requires “future-thinking” and is valuable both for the design of new customer experiences and the quantification of its benefits. As a bonus, new processes and tools will bring transparency that increases financial controls and reduces cases of fraud.

Customer Growth

Customer growth is a less linear benefit to prove. To quantify it cross-functional collaboration is key.  In her book , Jeanine Bliss lays out a customer experience framework that begins with “managing and honoring your customers as assets.” She urges customer experience leaders who build organizational trust in the value/imperative of customer experience investments to prove the “right to customer-driven growth” by connecting the value of customers to business metrics. Very often senior leaders focus on survey results, which is too myopic. Jeanine Bliss concludes that without the extra cross functional work, customer experience is seen as another cost and “nice to have” bells and whistle, not as a successful growth strategy.

How can you persuade your CFO to invest in customer experience? Build the connection between effortless and memorable experiences and customer growth with an actionable CRM (customer information software that informs us of customer characteristics and past interactions with our brand). By actionable CRM I do not mean a database without user interface that you can access from the web. An actionable CRM is accessible, easy to use tool that analyzes previous paths to purchase and the customer’s journeys that you can use as a baseline for the new journeys that you implement for the customer. With those insight in hand you have built the connection between CX and customer growth.

Revenue and customer growth are strong arguments for the success of the customer experience business case. However, do not believe those who tell you they are obvious. Clearly, they have never tried to prove the link between customer experience and revenue and customer growth. Instead arm yourself with good analytical resources and build a CRM solution that can feed your business case for the foreseeable future. In other words, build a mechanism to produce real customer insights, not data dumps that nobody understands.

Next month, in part 3 of our Customer Experience ROI series, we will cover how to quantify the positive customer and employee engagement ROI of the customer experience business case.  Higher employee engagement drives better retention numbers, lower churn and happier customers. Happier customers spend more money with your brand and drive up ancillary sales.  Show me a CFO who does not want both.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Social Media, Customer Experience, Brand Image

How Does Social Media Affect Customer Experience?

Social Media is the only real time channel for successful brands to manage customer experience and brand management.

Customer Perspective

Social Media is the Voice of the Customer.  That voice shares with the world the customer experience of brands. When it is  good, it becomes brand ambassador and promoter. When it is bad that voice erodes brand equity and tarnished the existing brand image. This year Pepsi tried to be relevant and used social racism protests for the set up of its latest ad. The backlash on social media was a an immediate customer engagement that Pepsi had to manage to keep the intended brand message on point. The perception of the customers did not match the intention of the brand. When JetBlue was redesigning the JFK lobby in New York we hoped to hear comparisons to the Apple store on social media as a sign that we have built the experience we imagined. The tweets came and we knew. Our brand message has been received.

Social media is a collaborative space for the customer to engage with brands on products design and usability. Customers discuss product specifications and, in some  cases, build their own products. Glossier’s best-selling product was produced entirely on the feedback of customers on social media. Regardless of brand strategy, today’s engineers and designers must tune in to social media and allow the customer to co-create products and services.

Today customer experience is equal to social media. Customers expect to self-serve on social media. They look for real time recovery of their experiences and expect the brands to listen at all times. When an airline cancels a flight, customers reach out on twitter and Facebook to rebook themselves on the next flight or book a hotel if the flight is not the same day.  Effective brands leverage these various conversations to build brand engagement and loyalty. The brand becomes another friend on social media. A loyal and helpful friend that listens and builds experiences with the customer.

Brand Perspective

Social Media is a real time channel for brands to engage with the customer. It is a tool to build customer expectations for the product and service experiences to follow. The brand can communicate product features and educate the audience on a specific topic. If these messages match the actual customer experience the brand equity undoubtedly grows and the connection with the customer gets stronger.

Social Media is a measure for brands to assess if the experiences perception of the customer matches the experience intention of the brand. Successful brand  managers  not only have  social media accounts, but also utilize them effectively to communicate their brand image and listen if the message is received or no. They use social media to make things right when they go wrong and offer self-service options for operational recovery and self-help.  For the authentic brand social media is competitive advantage. It is the channel to manage customer experience and build brand engagement. The brands that understand that first will not only win the millenials tomorrow, but every customer who expects relevant and personal customer experience today.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Customer Experience ROI. Is It Worth Doing?

The business case for Customer Service is complex. Gone are the days when we bought a piece of hardware that depreciates over 5 or 10 years on the balance sheet. Customer Experience does not even show up on our assets list. At least not with that name.

The ROI of Customer Experience is in the revenue and customer growth of your organization. It is in the engagement of your customer base that leads to ancillary sales. It is in the strength of your brand image and the worth of your brand equity.  The challenge business leaders face justifying investments (especially big ones) is because these relationships  are not linear. Today’s CFO need’s to understand the value of marketing more than ever. Customer Experience is equal to brand management and if you underestimate the importance of either, you might not be in business in 5 years.

Customer Experience ROI is the same as your company’s strategy ROI. If you don’t have a defined brand and marketing strategy backed up with a complimentary communications strategy you will not see Customer Experience ROI regardless of your investments. Think about your strategy and argue the case for Customer Experience investments as an execution of a strategy, not as a business case.

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.