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”
Many companies strive to achieve high customer satisfaction scores but end up falling short of their goals. One reason is that business teams focus on single parts of the customer journey instead of taking a Continue reading “How To Take CX To A New Level”
As discussed in “Make It Easy To Get Help,” it’s essential that companies focus on creating great experiences not just at the beginning of their buying journey but post-purchase too. Customers often need support in setting up and using a new product Continue reading “CX Lessons From My Experience At The Apple Store”
Considering it is less expensive for companies to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one, it is essential for businesses to deliver exceptional support at the moment people need it. While providing help is not a novel concept, many brands fail to do it Continue reading “Make It Easy For Customers To Get Help”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Many companies spend a lot of time and budget on acquiring new customers. They focus on driving satisfaction in the early stages of the journey (Learn & Buy) and ignore customer experiences and sentiments once payment is received. This is often the case for Continue reading “The End Of The Customer Journey Matters Just As Much As The Beginning”
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.
No company is perfect. It is inevitable that employees will make mistakes. The impact on brand image is not necessarily related to WHAT happens as much as HOW employees handle a problem. I recently encountered a situation, which in the end Continue reading “How To Turn Mistakes Into Positive Customer Experiences”
There is a lot to learn about doing CX right from our own everyday experiences as consumers. If we pay close attention, the lessons are right in front of our eyes. The following story serves as a great reminder of just how important the customer journey
Continue reading “Satisfaction Is Based On An Entire Experience, Not A Single Interaction”
In Post 2 of Liliana Petrova’s series on CX lessons learned and best practices for the new year on JetBlue, she explores the importance of “keeping the human touch” when implementing CX innovation tools.
Head over to Into the Blue, the JetBlue blog, to learn how to keep the human touch, and create better human connections.
Online shoppers often determine which stores to buy from based on their understanding return requirements upfront. According to UPS consumer surveys, “66% of shoppers review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. 15% abandon a cart when Continue reading “An Unexpected Driver Of Customer Purchasing Decisions”
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.
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.
We all interact with companies when shopping for products and services. Sometimes we talk to representatives in person, such as at a retail store, while other times we chat online or call customer care. Regardless of where the interaction occurs, Continue reading “One Person Can Make Or Break A Brand’s Image”