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!

If you like this article, please share with others so they can benefit. Sign Up for our newsletter to continue learning how to increase your skills and transform your organization! When you register now, you will get free access to our whitepaper on how to go 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.

#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.”

If you like this article, please share with others so they can benefit. Sign Up for our newsletter to continue learning how to increase your skills and transform your organization! When you register now, you will get free access to our whitepaper on how to go 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.

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 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.

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 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.
the customer experience effect jetblue liliana petrova

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

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 while keeping in mind their true North Star.

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.

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 AI (Artificial Intelligence) 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.

Liliana Petrova

From Pain Points to Magical Moments: Transform the Customer Experience

Argyle Journal recently interviewed customer experience professional (and Doing CX Right writer) Liliana Petrova about emerging self service technology and meeting and exceeding customer expectations in airports.

Liliana brings out a point that is integral to all technology-based customer experience solutions, namely that “[w]e want to create something that feels like magic, without breaking any foundational rules.”

Of that magic and the quest to create it as part of customer experience, Liliana explains, “[i]f there is a way to create a seamless and invisible experience, we want to find a way to get there.”

Read more about how she and her team are working to do so.

Play the audio below to hear Liliana speak about the magical customer experience.

 

 

*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

 

 

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