The Effects of A Pandemic on Customer Experience

The Effects of A Pandemic on Customer Experience

Every business has been impacted by Covid-19 in some way. Many companies thrived and others had to pivot for survival. Samespace interviewed me and several customer experience leaders including Nate Brown, Shep Hyken, Katie StablerJo Boswell, and Jim Tincher. I encourage you to listen to our inspirational video. I’m interested to hear your views. Let’s keep the conversations going to improve human experiences during and post-challenging times.

Transcript of Customer Experience Converations:

Kate Stabler 0:02
Effects of the pandemic have really placed customer experience under the spotlight. Everything changed. Our customer’s situations change. Their financial situations changed. Their home situations changed.

Shep Hyken 0:15
What happened in a really short period of time, the customer’s expectations turned a little bit

Stacy Sherman 0:21
Now, the conversation is how do we support the mental safety.

Nate Brown 0:25
So, what the CX leaders had to do is to come in and comfort and provide a place of safety.

Jim Tincher 0:31
And when that emotion gets better, so does your business.

Shep Hyken 0:35
You know, I used to come and see you personally. Now, I’m not going to do that. So you better make doing business remotely just as easy as it was before. And so we had to shift and come up with ways to do that

Kate Stabler 0:46
The need to be able to join up different channels end to end is now more important than ever before.

Nate Brown 0:54
We’re doing digital transformation, as an example.

Stacy Sherman 0:57
As long as it doesn’t remove the human interaction. So it has to compliment

Jim Tincher 1:03
When you have customers feeling more confident. Well, they order from you again.

Kate Stabler 1:07
And, we’ve learned as we’ve gone along, it’s about how do you as a customer experience leader, ensure that you are influencing your organization.

Check out my full interview about customer experience topics including:

  • Three components of CX that apply to every organization
  • Importance of Empathy in CX
  • The merge of customer experience and Diversity and Inclusion
  • Importance of mental safety of agents in such crisis
  • How to focus on getting the voice of the customer?
  • Leveraging technology to enable communications and complement agents
  • Tips for CX professionals to counter such crisis

 

How To Secure Customer Experience Investment

How To Secure Customer Experience Investment

Getting Executive buy-in and budget for customer experience programs is not so easy when there are leaders at the top who don’t fully understand the true value of CX. MyCustomer interviewed me and other customer experience professionals to find out what we have learned and recommend to gain resources and investments to support CX goals. I’m sharing a copy of the original article in hopes that more people will learn and apply the key tactics shared.

How To Get Customer Experience Investment

 As we discovered in a previous article, a combination of factors has conspired to make the job of demonstrating the value of CX programs more important than ever for customer experience professionals.

Whether it be the difficult trading conditions creating a squeeze on resources and budgets, or the concept of customer experience management becoming less seductive to the c-suite, or even the CX profession finding itself distracted by the trivial instead of the operational, boardrooms are less willing to support CX programs unless they are convinced by their ROI.

We spoke to a cohort of customer experience professionals to find out what they have learned about demonstrating CX value to company leadership during their careers so that we can glean insights into how to win hearts and minds in the c-suite.

But be warned – some bosses are easier to convince than others. As Stacy Sherman, Director of Customer Experience & Employee Engagement at Schindler Elevator Corporation, notes: “Not all leaders understand the importance of investing in customer experience resources, tools, and platforms. That’s because measuring culture, employee engagement, customer loyalty, and related KPIs are not as easy as counting eCommerce sales or retail transactions!”

For these CX skeptics, it can be necessary to build confidence and trust through an incremental approach. Iain O’Connor, senior manager for customer experience and insight at Aegon UK notes: “It’s important to build trust and belief amongst senior leadership and depending on your starting point that may mean starting small with quick wins to show what can be achieved and the impact CX improvements can have on customers but also on internal engagement and culture.”

Sherman agrees: “I recommend you gain buy-in through pilot programs and show impacts in small ways (quantitatively and qualitatively) to then ultimately grow and scale your customer experience programs.”

The power of storytelling

Nina Jones, head of advisor experience at Fidelity International, is another advocate of using qualitative and quantitative demonstrations to generate confidence in customer experience programs. “From my perspective, it is a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data which a customer experience team needs to have to be successful with senior leaders,” she explains. “It is a pure classic play to convince both the right and left-brain people… there are those senior executives who will gladly come with me on an emotional journey if I tell them a really good story; there are others who are only interested in hearing the whole story if it is based in cold, hard facts!”

Nina continues: “Looking back, most of my career has been in engineering-centric organizations, so this led me to always have my data and metrics available and known, as the culture within engineering organizations is naturally data-centric. Whichever job I am in, I always need to have a data analyst or data insight team close to me, so that I am able to prove or disprove my own theories before I even think about stepping into a board room to present a case.

“However, I have also realized that even the most hardened CEOs also love a good story, as they are, at the end of the day human beings! So, by making sure I have all of the compelling data and metrics, the key is then to play it into a compelling story where a CEO or the c-suite are able to rationally and emotionally engage with the experience that the investment is going to make better.”

Keith Gait, leader at The Customer Experience Foundation, and former customer services director at Stagecoach Bus, believes that storytelling allows customer experience managers to bring data alive and show a journey.

“Bring the issues to life with real life examples of failings within the business that hit hard,” he advises. “In my last organization I showed a 15-year-old boy being verbally abused and then put at risk by an employee to demonstrate the issues with front line culture and management behaviors that had been recorded by a member of the public. These are difficult to argue with. Share verbatims. Then demonstrate the financial impact this has on the business. At one company I worked with, we were able to show that every 1% of churn affected revenue by £10milllion, and that churn was directly caused by CSAT.

“Then show the journey of how you go from the baseline to the improvement outcome, whatever that may be, and the staging posts along the way. The key here is to try and show the metrics that will be tracked. It’s not always easy to show direct financial improvement, but we can show many proxy measures that we know will increase the bottom line.”

Customer feedback

Charlotte Dunsterville, chief consumer officer at Sure, is in regular contact with the c-suite to discuss customer experience opportunities and challenges. And to maintain buy-in and foster enthusiasm in ongoing CX investment, she ensures that leadership is privy to direct customer feedback that is collected.

“We have a comprehensive program of customer insight taking in relational and transactional surveys alongside a really engaged panel of our customers who are keen to give us feedback and get involved in ideas for new product launches, how our customer journeys are working, and input on our customer service,” she explains.

“I regularly present direct customer feedback to the senior team so that senior leaders are aware of the pain points, and we also use an automated platform internally to gather employee feedback and understand what we are getting right and what we could still improve for staff. In fact, we treat the customer and employee feedback very similarly with an ongoing loop of feedback, taking action and checking back in.

The approach I’ve found most useful to justify investment is to make sure that senior leaders are close to the feedback.

“So, in summary, the approach I’ve found most useful to justify investment is to make sure that senior leaders are close to the feedback, understand the pain points, and then it’s actually the c-suite leading the charge to improve the experience rather than it being justified by a specialist team. Win-win!”

Patricia Sanchez Diaz, head of customer experience at Centrica, is another advocate for the combination of data and storytelling as a device to demonstrate value but believes that CX professionals, in general, need to work their data harder through analytics.

“One of the fundamental gaps in CX teams is their ability to link improvements or innovation to business strategic targets and to measure it,” she argues. “CX makes sense if it brings value to the business. Often CX teams go about saying that when you bring value to the customer they return, spend more, and therefore the ROI increases – but that needs to be empirically proven.

“CX teams don’t do analytics in many cases – and that’s a mistake. Storytelling + CX analytics that will be the formula to generate funding.”

Proving ROI in a customer-centric, not company-centric way

In a recent article on MyCustomer, Gartner’s Augie Ray warns that one of the main pitfalls customer experience leaders must avoid when demonstrating CX program ROI, is to focus on monetary returns.

By trying to demonstrate how much money the business is making from CX initiatives, it is adopting a company-centric approach, instead of a customer-centric one, he suggests. CX leaders should be demonstrating what they get by improving customers and their relationship with the brand, rather than probing how much money can be extracted from them or how much costs can be reduced to lift short-term income.

He explains: “CX leaders must answer the ROI question in a way that doesn’t merely turn CX into another strategy for lowering costs or lifting acquisition. Instead, leaders need an approach that demonstrates how the company profits when customer expectations are understood, their needs are met, and their relationships strengthened.”

Ray recommends that the way to keep the focus on the customer while still demonstrating the ROI opportunity to business leaders is to follow three steps:

  • Step one: Start with data on customer perception. The starting point is to make sure you have customer-sourced information about customer perception. This is typically derived through Voice of the Customer (VoC) surveys asking questions about customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), or net promoter score (NPS).
  • Step two: Combine and analyze your VoC and operational data. The next step in the process is to find and use operational and financial data at the customer level. Most typically, CX leaders will seek to collect and import data on retention, sales growth, number of products acquired, cost to serve, or referral volume. Once you combine the VoC scores provided by customers and the financial or business data of those same customers, you can begin to analyze the differences in business and financial value associated with customers who are satisfied versus dissatisfied.
  • Step three: Get the right data to the right people. Research demonstrates that organizations drive more customer-centric decision-making by showing leaders why being customer-centric is in their own best interest and not merely in the best interests of the entire firm. For example, you might show digital leaders that highly satisfied customers are more likely to trust, adopt and engage with the company’s digital platforms. By analyzing the relationship between customer satisfaction scores and a variety of business metrics, CX leaders can show the ROI of CX in terms of the outcomes for which each leader is responsible.

Ray concludes: “You’ll note that this approach keeps the focus on the customer – their perception and satisfaction with your products and services. We are not merely calculating how much the company can make or save from a given CX effort but instead proving why lifting CSAT, CES, and NPS scores benefit the organization’s growth, margin, and bottom line. By taking this approach, we keep the focus on the customer while demonstrating that customer satisfaction is a business driver worth investment.”

Final advice

But a final word of advice – be prepared for your attempts to demonstrate value go awry. And if your presentation to the board doesn’t go according to plan, don’t give in!

As Nina Jones notes: “Board meetings do not always go as you may have planned even with your most bulletproof business case! However, in my experience ‘no’ doesn’t mean’ no’ most of the time. It usually means, ‘you haven’t convinced me yet’…therefore, from a personal approach perspective, there is a need for customer experience leaders and teams to have bucket loads of tenacity and resilience to be able to dust themselves down, have a good wash up to truly understand what was being said in the room, get back on the horse, regroup and go again!

“Keep the faith that if it is the right thing to do, it may need a couple of goes! I have personally been working on a program for 12 months now with a bulletproof business case and we have still not got everything we need! We will though, I am determined as it is the right thing to do! One thing about a really long protracted decision-making cycle, it provides the opportunity to ensure the business case is, indeed as robust as you think it is!”

How Great Customer Service Can Turn Anger Into Happiness

How Great Customer Service Can Turn Anger Into Happiness

Mistakes happen all the time, because there’s a human at the other side of a business transaction. What employees (the face of your company) do when errors occur affects customer trust and loyalty. For example, do employees make excuses or take accountability? Do they ignore a problem as if it didn’t exist, or do they respond promptly and go up and beyond to provide better customer service?

I’ve witnessed over and over again that customers are more forgiving when problems are not ignored.  Providing customer service in an empathetic manner can boost customer feelings and turn NPS detractors into promoters as in the case of Conray Weaver’s hotel visit. I’m happy to share his “Wow Moments” as they provide great brand lessons about turning bad situations into positive stories that go viral.

Contray’s original article can be found here.

Two years ago I had the privilege of staying at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in western Pennsylvania. I was on a job for a client who paid for my stay at the resort; not a bad gig, I must say.  Nemacolin is truly a 5-star facility, it’s a gorgeous place with huge rooms – mine even had a chandelier. When I arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by a professional staff of valets and bell hops, everyone I encountered was courteous, professional, and completely focused on making my experience comfortable and relaxing.

So, I was quite perplexed the next morning when I jumped into the shower to get ready for my day and the shower head didn’t seem to be working properly. The stream of water coming out of the shower was really wimpy, so I tried adjusting the shower head but couldn’t seem to get it working the way I thought it should.  Since I had a very busy day ahead of me, I didn’t spend too much time messing with it, but after a second morning of a poor shower experience I decided to tell someone – well, actually I decided to tweet about it.

So at 9:51AM I sent out the following tweet:

shower

To make a long story short, within 30 minutes of sending that tweet, I had a response from the Nemacolin staff, and by the time I got to the room that evening, the shower head was replaced and in excellent working condition!  Of course, I thanked the folks at Nemacolin with a tweet!

Fast-forward one year later. Twelve months after my wimpy shower, I found myself once again at Nemacolin – lucky me!  When I arrived in my room – to my amazement – I found a note on the desk along with a gift package. The note mentioned the “wimpy shower” from 12 months before, and said the gift on the desk is for the trouble I had.  I was sincerely impressed!

Nemacolin NoteBut hold on – this year I was back at Nemacolin Woodlands working for the same client, and walk into my room, and on the bed – yes, TWO YEARS after I had trouble with a wimpy shower head  – they had a huge gift basket on my desk and a note. Two years later, they remembered and gave me a gift!

Nemacolin Gift BasketThe level of customer care that’s exhibited by the staff at Nemacolin Woodlands is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced anywhere – and I’ve stayed at some really nice places!  Why do they do this? Maybe it’s because they’re a 5-star resort? Maybe its because they really understand the power of social media? Maybe it’s because they actually care about their guests!
I think it’s because they really understand how to treat people – their customers.

Without customers no business can survive. Without customer service, no business will thrive. Going above and beyond expectations adds value to your business, and often earns customers for life.  For me, I will always be a huge fan of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, and I will be a customer for life!

Take time today to do something that goes above and beyond your customer’s wildest expectations!  Surprise them, and they may surprise you!

Get more actionable tips about creating great customer service to drive loyal brand advocates even when mistakes happen in my other aricle. Tell me your stories as I love hearing and featuring Wow Moments.

What Is A Buyer Persona & Why Does It Matter?

What Is A Buyer Persona & Why Does It Matter?

Persona development is an important part of any customer experience (CX) practice. I’ve written an article to provide you helpful tips about persona development. I’m happy to also share a guest post about buyer persona, and what I call Doing CX Right, by Dallin Porter which first appeared on Galacticfed.com. Enjoy Dallin’s article and encourage you to share your views.

The ultimate goal of any business is to gain customers. These customers are what build brands, share your product, and of course, make money. But how do you gain or appeal to customers if you don’t know what they like, where they are, or how they live?

Instead of casting a wide net and hoping for a bite, creating buyer personas for your products are one of the most effective ways to increase your customer pool while decreasing the risks of making uninformed decisions and creating the wrong type of products. The results speak for themselves; customers are 48% more likely to consider businesses that personalize their marketing to address their own specific issues.

The importance of a buyer persona can not be understated. Although sometimes overlooked, it can guide several parts of your marketing strategy like which metrics you measure, what social media channels you use, and even what products you bring to market in the future.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a fictional character, but it represents very real people – your customers. It’s a detailed outline of who exactly is the person researching, buying, and sharing your product. When we refer to a buyer persona, it can of course represent an individual person, but oftentimes, especially in the B2B space, it’s representative of client business or brand.

Source: HubSpot

Figuring out who your customers are and nailing down specific and detailed characteristics of them will and should guide almost every aspect of your marketing. It’s important to note that creating these personas should be completed in the early stages (and if not then, right now) to ensure your marketing decisions align with the people who actually want your products. A recent survey conducted by Act-On, showed some staggering results of having an identified buyer persona:

  • a 900% increase in length of visit on webpage
  • a 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue
  • a 111% increase in email open rate
  • and a 100% increase in the number of pages visited.

Although you have many different types of people who are in your customer base, a brand should only have a handful of buyer personas. This will help centralize the focus of your business and streamline the implementation of your strategies.

A great place to look for inspiration for your buyer persona is (surprise) your audience. Do you have a similar type of person who lives and dies by your product? Are there overlapping characteristics in the types of businesses and clients that reach out to you? Take these attributes and flesh them out into your personas and use them as your foundation.

Before we get into into the specifics of your buyer profile, start by thinking of your audience within the frame of your brand, and what they might be:

  • Thinking
  • Feeling
  • Wanting
  • Concerned about
  • Frustrated about
  • Expecting
  • Planning
  • Hoping

Although these “emotional metrics” are not wholly quantifiable, they are meant to emphasize the fact that you’re creating your products and services for actual humans – imagine that. Looking at your business through the lens of these human characteristics breaks down the barriers between you and your customers, and is the first step in creating your own buyer persona. This persona should be at the heart of your entire marketing, since in its most basic form it allows you to provide support to the people who need it at the exact right time.

How is a buyer persona used?

In marketing, the use of a buyer persona is multifaceted and can be regularly evaluated to ensure its accuracy and effectiveness. And for good reason, 93% of companies who either surpassed or achieved their yearly revenue milestones, segmented their audience database by buyer persona. Creating and implementing this valuable tactic will improve:

Branding: Having a solidified, fully fleshed out persona will guide internal processes and even enhance collaboration between teams. Each individual on the marketing and sales team (and arguably the whole company) should know these personas off by heart; copywriters, videographers, digital marketers, directors, social media managers, and the CMO. The awareness of the personas will make them more effective in understanding their own role, and it will streamline the work produced as a whole, while creating outcomes that are cohesive and intended for the same person.

Strategy: Creating a persona is a strategic endeavour. It’s done so that when decisions need to be made, there’s no confusion who you’re making it on behalf of. That can be decisions like, which social media channels should we focus on? For example, if you know that Silicon Steve, one of your personas, is most active on Twitter and Reddit, you know where you’re going to be posting content. It can (and should) even guide where you target your paid ads and where you go to receive feedback.

Content: Every content marketing strategy should be based on your buyers persona. This requires you to nail down what types of content they like to consume, for how long, where they are finding it, what they are sharing, and how often. This data will feed into content like what campaigns you create or what blogs you publish._

Metrics: The data you use to create your buyer persona is crucial, and should drive the future of your business. You need to be analyzing how long users spend reading your blog to know what types of blogs to produce. You can examine your audience email open rate to determine what headlines perform the best. In fact, for one brand, using buyer personas in an email campaign improved open rate by 2x and click through rate by 5x. Almost every customer-facing metric you look at can be used to identify your core buyer persona and speak to their pattern of behavior.

The buyer persona information is helpful for all forms of marketing, but is especially applicable to inbound marketing, as it allows you to be fully aware of who you are trying to attract, and how to recognize a meaningful lead when they appear. Ultimately, it shows that you’re addressing your customers pain points, and gaining their trust by providing relevant and contextual solutions.

How to create a buyer persona?

Most of creating your detailed buyer persona will come from gathering information from different sources. This information will help you define a realistic portrait of your audience, and will be supported by actual data collected from your business.

Sometimes the obvious approach just works. One of the easiest ways to get an indicative snapshot into your buyer is take a look at your existing audience. Whether it’s followers on social media or recurring customers on your website, examine these analytics to solidify defining characteristics such as age, location, professional status, income level, and even purchasing behavior. You can also reach out directly to your customers in a survey or interview, to get feedback from them first hand about who they are and what their problems, hopes, and wants are regarding your services.

To make sure your buyer persona is data-based and founded in real information, you also can use the insights combed from Google Analytics. Reviewing the information there will help you develop these personas, since it’s based on real people. You can gather stats regarding if your customers prefer mobile vs. desktop, what locations they are finding you from, and even what other interests they have, through affinity categories. All of this extremely valuable information will help you define your persona, but then should drive other decisions in regards to product development and implementation.

What patterns or behaviors do you see across the board? What is a common piece of feedback you get online? You will show your customers not only that you are listening, but that you’re developing solutions for them too. In just a moment we will get to what other important stats you’ll need to create a robust buyer profile.

What do consider when creating a buyer persona?

When you move to physically creating the buyer persona, it’s helpful to create a template by examining a list of characteristics and filling in the gaps using your sourced data.

Let’s take a look at an example. If you were a company in the online education industry, in addition to identifying basic character traits such as age, gender, profession, you’ll need to extend your scope to a wider lens. Remember, the more information you can confidently identify about your buyer, the more insight you will have to provide solutions for them. Some of these key questions are:

  • What are their professional aspirations?
  • What problems do they encounter that we can solve?
  • What common objections might they have to our products?
  • What keeps them from becoming a repeat customer?
  • What takes up the most of their time?
  • How do they spend their free time?
  • What resources do they trust?
  • Where do they spend their time online?
  • How do they consume their content?
  • What would they want to know in regards to our brand?
  • Where would they “splurge” with their money?
  • Why haven’t they found us sooner?
  • What does a day in life look like for them?

As you can tell, the best buyer personas put themselves directly in the shoes, offices, and homes of their customers. Analyzing these questions and deciding on realistic, viable answers will also be a form of problem solving for your services. They will help you relate to your customer and ultimately allow you to position your business as one who understands the needs of its audience.

Let’s take a look at some excellent buyers persona examples:

Source: Brafton

  1. This persona has been given a real person’s name, a stock photo, and all of the typical background information you’d have in your customer or client management system. They went into great detail like archetype, motivations, and proficiency with different types of technology. They even highlighted some of the other brands where she is a loyal customer. All of this information will help guide what type of content they produce, how they update and market their products, and what type of language they will use when reaching out.

Source: Alexa Blog

Another version dives into multiple aspects of this fictional, yet based in reality, persona. Important areas that they have considered are her finances; which shows being conscious of their own price points, and things that make her life easier. This could guide future products and promotions for the brand. As you can see, the persona is a lot of detailed information that, when combined, gives an insightful and accurate depiction of the type of people that use their product, and that who they want to attract.

Source: Content Harmony

  1. Finally we have a buyer persona that is more professionally oriented. This could be for a product or software that specializes in B2B or the corporate world. You’ll notice at the top, that there’s different sections including perceived barriers, success factors, and, the buyer’s journey (which you’ll find out about next.) They even identified what her roles at work are, and who she would report to – this helps us know that she is a decision maker. A specific buyer persona like this can see if the product or brand is aligned with the customers responsibilities and how they are individually evaluated.

The buyer persona and the buyer’s journey

Although we are highlighting what a buyer persona is and why they have the power to be so effective, it needs to be noted that the buyer persona should also speak to where your audience is in the buyer’s journey. Similar to the marketing funnel the buyer’s journey represents which stage of the process your customer is in, and how close they are to making a purchase, download, or investment. There are three key stages: awareness, consideration, and decision, and identifying different buyer personas that fall under each stage of this process, will help you guide them along to the next, eventually leading them to the decision-making stage.

It would be beneficial to create a version of each of your core buyers journeys as they go through this process. What would make them move from awareness to consideration? What hesitations might they have that would keep them in the consideration stage? What barriers need to be overcome to make a decision?

Source: Neil Patel

The result of considering your buyer personas with the buyer’s journey is highly targeted content. You’ll be producing content and solutions that are addressing the combination of who your buyer is, with where they currently are, which ultimately leads to conversions.

Putting it together

The role of a buyer persona is much more than to simply serve as inspiration. Its purpose is foundational to guiding many aspects of your business, and should be reviewed often. By creating detailed, specific, and realistic personas, you’ll not only save yourself time (and a few misses,) but the vision for who you customer is will come into focus and the road to conversion will be clear. From strategy to content to development, considering who your audience truly is, and what they need to become or remain a customer of yours, will be the guiding light that leads to success.

 

Continue learning best practices to differentiate your brand. Read my article about Journey Mapping and also download a free template to help get you started.

 

Empowering Employees Leads To Better CX

Empowering Employees Leads To Better CX

RingCentral interviews Stacy Sherman. Customer Experience article originally posted on their website.

Now, more than ever, listening to the customer has been vital. Yet, companies who solely focus on one area of the customer experience are often missing a key component of that process, creating a positive and compassionate environment where employees face customers every day and shape those moments for the better.

We spoke to customer experience leader and expert Stacy Sherman to learn more about how companies can create lasting customer loyalty through an engaged workforce.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

I have been focused on customer experience and employee engagement at both big and small companies throughout my career. I currently work for Schindler Elevator Corporation and previously lead CX at Verizon. I am passionate about driving more people into the field of CX, as then we will have greater satisfaction everywhere. I live and breathe CX by day and have founded DoingCXRight, where I continue the work and practice in helping others when I am not at my day job.

 

What is the objective of your website and blog, DoingCXRight?

For me, it is all about doing and not talking, hence DoingCXRight. People often talk about creating a customer-centric culture, employee experiences, and driving employee engagement but don’t know how to do it. They also talk about inclusion and diversity of thought but don’t know how to do it either. Ultimately, a happy employee leads to a happy customer, so it is within the framework. A group of people who don’t know how to get into the CX field or realize they have a customer experience job that they have been doing but don’t recognize it. So that is part of my practice and framework to helping individuals and leaders to differentiate their brand. Personally and professionally.

Ultimately, a happy employee leads to a happy customer – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET

It is really about doing and about not overusing the words “customer service” and “customer experience.” I want to help ensure that people are doing it right and not checking a box. I want to make sure that the real best practices are applied, and that is my purpose.

 

What advice would you give for creating original and authentic customer experiences?

I would first start with the basics:

  1. Hire a customer experience expert
  2. Institute customer experience measurements – NPS is a common one. Start there but it doesn’t end there.
  3. Measure employee experiences and identify their level of satisfaction because they go hand-in-hand. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they pay it forward. The customers see it and feel too.
  4. Institute voice of customer initiatives – where you intentionally get customer feedback across the customer journey at different moments of truth. It comes from structured surveys, for example, and unsolicited feedback from digital channels such as social media and reviews. Aggregate it all to understand what customers feel and what they’re saying to use that feedback and close the loop.

Identify their level of satisfaction because they go hand-in-hand – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET

 

How would you advise brands to leverage digital channels and data for customer engagement?

Voice of the customer is a game-changer, and I have a good article on that. It comes from traditional channels such as contact forms on your website and social media where the conversation is happening. You need to pay attention and respond because people are watching how the brand reacts, meaning you need to have very good governance around that.

You need to pay attention and respond because people are watching how the brand reacts – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET 

Same for ratings and reviews, as consumers, we are often reading what others say and taking it as authentic, trustworthy reviews. So you need to have a handle on that. Then you can use technology to centralize all this voice of customer feedback, including chat or customer care representatives with notes/historical data. That way, you can prioritize the most common themes to identify the areas your team can use. The magic happens when you can do something with this throughout your organization.

You are also specialized in employee engagement. Could you tell us what the main factors behind engaged and happy employees are?

 

So I believe it is about giving employees a voice and empowering them to do what is right for the customers, even when the boss is not looking. When developing a new product or service, it is important to go to employees and ask them for feedback, especially the frontline interacting with customers every day. Incorporate them into your process, and when they are part of it, they own it too. It allows them to feel authentically connected to the project.

Secondly, when customers give feedback and mention an employee by name, don’t ignore that. Use it to praise them and acknowledge what great looks like. Then they will do more because it is natural when we feel appreciated; when we feel gratitude, we do more. That is a simple step to use customer feedback, where they often mention the name of the person who went above and beyond to help them. Even if it is negative feedback, do not ignore that either. Use it as a coaching opportunity rather than reprimand the employee. Really mentor the individual so that they can succeed. That is how you build a culture of caring and customer-centricity. 

When developing a new product or service, it is important to go to employees and ask them for feedback. – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET

 

What was the book that inspired you the most this year?

The book that I found business and CX connections to it, which I wrote about in Forbes, is called “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.  My article explains why these four agreements are important at this time, but I will tell you about them briefly.

  • Do not make assumptions
  • Do not take anything personally
  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Always do your best

 

It is powerful because, for example, number one is “Do not make assumptions”. When customers do not have any feedback or their responsiveness is bad, they will make assumptions that can tarnish your brand. To communicate to mitigate that quickly, as a leader, you owe it to your employees to communicate well. There is a lot of leadership lessons in it.

I love the fact it is about being transparent. It is asking people what do they need; there is no reason to guess. Contact customers to ask them “what’s wrong?” so that employees don’t assume, don’t misinterpret, and avoid useless arguments.

Contact customers to ask them what’s wrong so that employees don’t assume, don’t misinterpret, and avoid useless arguments. – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET

 

“Do not take anything personally”; we often misinterpret stories and believe they have something to do with us when they don’t. A lot is going on with people’s lives at the moment, and we can’t take things personally, so that is where I will spend one-on-one time with my staff every week. There is no cookie-cutter approach. I spend time with each one of them and as a team as well. That’s a lot of time especially when you have a big team, but it is worth it because I do not want anyone to take something personally. The same goes for me; I do not want to take anything personally in a way that they do not understand. It is important to validate beliefs.

The next one is “Be impeccable with your word”; words are powerful, and we have to use them to build people up. We need to be intentional about what we say because perception is reality. We need to know our audience as some words can be misinterpreted depending on backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, so we need to personalize our messages. From customers to employees, colleagues to bosses.

We need to be intentional about what we say because perception is reality. – @stacysherman CLICK TO TWEET

The final one is about “Always do your best”; I love this statement because we often try to deliver 100 percent, but the fact is that there is no such thing. At some point, we all experience diminishing returns.

As a leader, I support work/life balance; I am more about managing energy than a clock. Therefore, making sure my team is motivated and engaged instead of feeling burned out.

What was your most outstanding experience as a customer in 2020?

Oh, there are so many good ones, but I would say Trader Joe’s. When I arrived at the store, they cleaned my shopping cart first, hand wiping each customers’ cart for safety. Then I go into the store, and all the staff welcomes me with a “Hello.” If I need any help to find something, they don’t just tell you “Aisle 4, on the right”, they walked me to the product I am looking for. Then the assistant opens a bag or offers to find me a sample to taste and make sure that I like the product. That level of service is a “wow moment. It, of course, then makes you want to buy that product.

I went to the checkout area soon after, my daughter happened to be with me on this occasion, and my daughter said “happy holidays” to the cashier. The woman at the register, who seemed to appreciate something so simple, went over to the florist section and brought back some flowers and gave them to my daughter. When she replied, “thank you, but what for?” the cashier said, “Just for being you.” This will encourage my daughter to say it more in the future after experiencing this act of kindness.

Again, it is all those things that add up and made the journey enjoyable. Once we got home and enjoyed the products, we looked up the Trader Joe’s community on Facebook, which customers started and where they share their experiences. They use products, something that is valuable and a dream come true for the brand. 

Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

I would like to help more people get into the field of Customer Experience. I am happy for people to contact me. Furthermore, I believe that everybody has a “why?” and for me, that would be that I am on a mission to inspire people to create better experiences so that real human connections and happiness can exist. That is where I want to drive more of that and make a difference.