purpose driven culture

How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture

If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of an organization. And it is for this reason that so few organizations have cultures that are based on purpose. Instead, almost all of the organizations we see have visions and mission statements.

Purpose is the Foundation of Culture

Why is purpose the necessary foundation for the right organizational culture? The answer is clear. When culture is based on purpose, that purpose informs strategic, business and financial decisions. It becomes easier to see what decisions to make in the context of your organization’s purpose.

Purpose in Action

Let’s say you are a membership organization and your purpose is to serve your members. Assume you are in the meeting where you prioritize capital investments and you are looking at two technologies. The first aims to build a solution that will scale a product to reach more members in remote places. The second aims to make one event very effective.

With the purpose of serving members top-of-mind, it is easy to make the call and choose the project that impacts more members. On the other hand, if you had a vision statement, the choice might have been open to interpretation and internal political debate.

Purpose is deeply connected to the human side of business. As such, it is much harder to argue with.

Employees are Motivated by Purpose

Purpose driven culture also helps to get your employees to buy in to your vision. Purpose is inspirational. It is personal. It is also based on values and, as such, can transcend the gap between work and personal life.

When your organization is purpose based, your employees who connect with that purpose can bring their authentic selves to the job. They can be themselves. In turn, this makes them feel more connected to the organization. That naturally elevated employee engagement turns your employees into ambassadors of your brand.

Mission Statements are Not Enough

There is no mission statement that can drive the loyalty that purpose can. Big brands often forget that, and they spend more time in the boardrooms talking about strategies. Strategies come and go. Purpose is permanent. An organization with purpose can easily survive changes in management and changes in the market. Even though leadership might change, purpose stays forever.

Purpose Drives Hiring and Retention

With purpose based culture, even recruiting is easier. Candidates that share the passion for your purpose naturally demonstrate that in their interviews. It is much easier to spot and hone in on that in an interview than it is to test vision statement buy-in.

Although purpose is much harder to define and it may take a little more soul searching, taking the time to do so early on is the best investment when you launch your organization. The ROI of that time is eternal and may well save your company’s life down the line.

If you need a thought partner on getting to YOUR right answer, we are always here to help!

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*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.

doingcxright guest post design thinking

Design Thinking Toolkit

Editor’s Note: Below is a guest post from Customer Experience Design professional Jose Mateo. Jose shares his thoughts in the power of design thinking and the importance of creating customer-centric experiences.

For some time, applying Design Thinking as an approach to human-centered design, and examining how it amplifies (or benefits from) other frameworks, has been my obsession.

The Design Thinking Toolkit

The Design Thinking Toolkit offers a framework and a common language for design efforts. This framework is driven by a mindset that puts the customer at the center of the design effort. Applying the design thinking mindset has helped me improve, re-design, or completely re-imagine physical spaces, sites, and seamless omni-channel Customer Journeys.

Design that Doesn’t Delight

When it comes to experience design efforts, I have had successes. However, the reality is Customer Experience design efforts often flounder. In fact, I have even led and participated in efforts that had no impact.

Despite hard work, and the fact that these efforts had real potential to delight the customer, they died a slow death. Or worse, they became zombies: pet projects that burn resources and do not tangibly impact Customer Experience.

Why Do Experience Design Efforts Fail?

We know that great Customer Experiences are necessary to win with Customers and against top competitors. So, why do so many efforts fail, even though they have the potential to create better Customer Experiences? Some cite that up to 70% of Experience Design efforts do not materialize into improvements that actually touch customers.

There is a simple reason these efforts do not succeed. They do not succeed because they are not framed, funded, completed or re-purposed in the context of a clearly articulated Business Strategy.

how Customer Experience Design efforts benefit from a Business Strategy

Business Case

A well articulated Business Strategy has a Measurement System that includes Financial Metrics. These can re-confirm, amplify, or complement NPS (Net Promoter Score), CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), and other metrics that can justify Customer Experience Design efforts.

Cross Functional Alignment

Typically, the exercise to formulate a Business Strategy is sponsored by a Leader at the very top. Often, that is the CEO or the P/L owner. This effort includes participation and explicit buy-in from top functional Leaders.

That explicit buy-in is a solid base from which to acquire active cross-functional engagement. This engagement is necessary to deliver customer-centric experiences.

60% of Consultancy Services and Experience Design Professionals cite differing functional priorities as the leading cause of failures for Experience Design Efforts.

Executive Governance and Support

A Business Strategy can provide the one-time resources necessary to ensure that Experience Design improvements are implemented. Additionally, it can put in place the organizational Design and staffing changes necessary to sustain and evolve those experiences.
With so many great frameworks for getting work done, it is inevitable that there will be overlap in mindsets, approaches, and methods.  I have been exploring and actively experimenting with how Design Thinking and Strategy Formulation can inform and amplify each other to provide simple, seamless, and elegant human experiences. These are the experiences that meet real consumer needs, strengthen brand equity, and lead to sustainable, profitable growth.
In order to give your Customer Experience Design efforts a better chance to flourish, and to amplify their impact, I urge you to leverage all the skills, experiences, resources, and frameworks available to you.

Connect with Jose Mateo

For a deeper conversation on design thinking ideas, feel free to reach out at josemateo100@gmail.com or at @josemateo100

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culture hr

Culture Starts at the Top

Last week we started the conversation about culture by establishing that we need to define culture before we can deliver great customer experience. Today, we are talking about how to get the right culture in your organizations.

First and foremost, you need the right leader. Without a leader who believes that today’s business success is about acquiring and retaining customers, you cannot even begin the process of building a culture. Leaders who are passionate about the customer are also passionate about creating culture and employee engagement.

How Leaders Create Culture

Leaders create the culture of an organization. Their actions and words form the storytelling and folklore of the company. That is the strongest source of culture. Folklore is not designed. It is an account of what happened. In that sense, the leader at the top defines the culture of his/her company.

Dave Barger, the former CEO of JetBlue Airways, remembered the name of every employee he met. He stopped employees in the hallway to shake hands or high five. Every new hire knew the stories about Dave Barger. The CEO and his values were part of the folklore – and the identity – of the company. Airline employees knew Dave as the man who started his career as a bag handler. He was someone who walked the talk because he knew firsthand what it is like to be on the front line.

These kinds of stories can’t be choreographed. If they were, they would not be retold by employees. Nor would they be embraced.

Dave used to fly to Orlando, where JetBlue’s training center is, to meet every new employee as part of an Orientation process for new hires of all ranks. Every two weeks, he spent two days in Orlando telling the story of how the company started and sharing his passion for the industry with flight attendants, bag handlers, and support function new hires.

The Mechanics of Culture

So how was culture instituted in JetBlue’s case? Once people knew what a caring and passionate leader Dave Barger was, they wanted to emulate him. Even more, they wanted him to be proud of them. So they tried to do what he did in their small orbits of influence.

And it worked. The General Manager of Boston took care and connected with all his employees in the operation. The VP of the Contact Center made the offices in Salt Lake City a home for all her employees, supporting them through personal and family struggles. The culture “JetBlue is your family” started with the CEO. But it did not end with him.

The company culture that stimulated employee engagement and fueled customer experience could not have grown without a leader who “lived the values” every day of his life.

Culture Goal is Real

According to Lumoa “Only 13% of companies believe that HR has an impact on Customer Experience activities in the company.” This is one of the reasons so many companies have a hard time making CX part of their core value proposition. A great leader knows that culture needs both folklore to inspire, and a reward system to acknowledge when culture values are done right.

When culture is important to the leader, he/she incorporates it into a culture goal for the executive team. In JetBlue for example, HR managed the culture goal. And it accounted for 20% of the goals for all Directors. Part of the culture goal was to adopt a city station and visit the employees four times a year. What do you think happened when it rained and we still had to travel to our respective cities? We all went, since there was an incentive to do so.

Include HR in Culture Goals

HR is integral not only in the culture goal setting process, but also in the programming of events and initiatives that bring that culture to the daily lives of employees.

That programming is essential to promoting and maintaining culture in your organization, for the benefit of employees and customers, as we will explore in some exciting upcoming conversations.

Keep Culture Top of Mind

What you need to walk away knowing right now is that, when culture is top of mind for leadership, leadership supports employees who live out culture goals. Let’s carry through the JetBlue example. Under Dave Barger, caring was a culture goal. Employees earned credit for volunteering outside the organization. And employees with the most hours were honored at a gala dinner with the CEO and executive team (that means real face-time with leadership).

Compensation and rewards like this – moments of awe for employees – close the loop with the executive team. That is how we build cultures in organizations in a way that shows results in the daily life of employees and the experience of customers.

So, if you are serious about culture, hire the right leader for your organization and start building from there.

Confused about where to start? We can help you build your culture goals throughout your organizational structure, from HR to leadership, to front line employees.

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

survey design cx

Why Customers Are Not Responding to Your Surveys

Every experience we go through is connected to our power as consumers. And experience surveys have become part of nearly every brand interaction we have.

Last month, I went to a museum and was solicited for feedback. My grocery store surveys me on my delivery experience. As consumers, we asked to be empowered to give feedback… we certainly got what we wished for!

So then why are we still having bad experiences? If brands care so much about our feedback, why there is no impact to our journeys?

Because basic best practice principles are not applied to survey design.

Survey Timing Matters!

When you solicit customer feedback sometimes matters more than how you ask the questions. In the case of a survey about new biometrics boarding initiatives my team and I created for JetBlue, we had a list of feedback that was most important for us.

We needed to know how our customers felt about their privacy. We also needed to know if they perceived the boarding process as faster. When we called our customer insights team, we were given the option to send an online survey a few dates after the flight. We knew that by that point in the journey, our customers would have forgotten the details of the experience. So we designed a paper survey for them to complete in real time. Was the analysis of the results painfully manual? Absolutely! But based on this approach, we were able to change the experience the very next day, and we increase NPS.

In Survey Design, Customer Context Matters

At an airline boarding gate during a POC (proof of concept), it is easy to fill out a one page survey. This can be the best approach to collecting feedback. However, the same approach can negatively impact your response rates. You must be aware of the context of your end user.

I gave birth on November 7th. On my kitchen table, two months later, I still have the paper survey Mount Sinai sent me about my birthing experience. I almost threw it out a few times, but I am keeping it since I have a lot of feedback to give (Stay tuned for that post coming soon).

No postpartum, sleep deprived woman has the time to fill out a 5 page paper survey after she gets home from the hospital. I should have received the survey as part of the hospital discharge process; or I should have received it via email to fill it out faster and submit it without having to leave my house.

The End Goal Matters

When you design a survey, you must keep in mind what you plan to do with the results. In other words, you need to be strategic and deliberate with your questions. Customer attention span is not long. Make sure the questions you really need answers to are in the beginning of your survey. Also, make sure you can actually DO something with the answers you get.

If you suspect a reason why your website users are dropping off your site, or your checking account customers are leaving your branch, make sure you list those options separately. Don’t leave “other” as an option, creating more effort for your customers to tell you your problems. If part of your goal is to visually represent the survey results, make sure you limit the number of open ended questions.

Last but not least, be aware of sending too many surveys. We all know NPS is part of the story and you need more survey data to explain why the NPS is a certain way. But avoid surveying every touch point independently. Make sure the end user only sees one feedback outreach.

If you want to learn more about surveys and CX metrics best practices, reach out to us about our Mentoring Program.

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*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.

hiring cx teams who to hire first

Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team

Although Customer Experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last 5 years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands and B-to-B entities.

How to Build a CX Team

Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in Customer Experience efforts.

The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.

Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place

The CX cycle begins and ends with Customer Insights ( the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin.  If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.

Hire a manager level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning.  You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.

Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place

Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.

This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.

Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team

Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.

If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.

Hiring when you Have All of the Above on Your CX Team

The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.

These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.

Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.

Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.

As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.

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*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 stress to success

Eliminate Customer Stress with Good CX

Good customer experiences either give back customer time or alleviate customer anxiety. If a brand’s CX isn’t achieving one of those goals, the customer isn’t getting any real or perceived value.  How can brands manage stress?  Better yet, how can brands build experiences that eliminate customer stress?

Causes of Customer Stress – Feeling Out of Control

The number one driver of customer stress is lack of information. Today, customers demand information. Knowledge is power and customers want to be in control of their journeys and experiences. Who can blame them? In our fast-paced environment, time is precious. Brands that respect customer time win customer loyalty.

Spectrum’s customer experience leaves much to be desired, but their call center customer experience is a winner. Let’s walk through that journey.  When a customer calls Spectrum, the phone system states the exact length of the hold time and offers the option to receive a call back.

In this case, the customer gets relevant information to make a decision (call back later or stay on), and he/she is given a CHOICE. Information and choice alleviate CX stress.

Transparency in the moment immediately relaxes customers. It makes them feel more in control. When designing CX solutions, keep in mind the solution needs to be comprehensive in order to create value. A message that says “Your wait time will be longer than usual” is not informative enough to empower decision making. Customers do not know what the usual wait time is, so that information is useless. To build a call center solution that reduces CX stress, invest in creating a technology solution that actually offers customers value. Do not stop in the middle and deliver general “buckets” of information.

The New Jersey Transit System and Long Island Railroad are building experiences that give customers the power to manage their journeys. Customers can see wait times and buy tickets via an app. Commuters know there is nothing more stressful than worrying about catching the right train. One delay can mean missing a meeting or a kid’s school performance. The stakes are high and so is the stress. On-the-go ticket purchasing alleviates a lot of that stress. No more lines in front of kiosks that may or may not work. No more adding time to an already long commute.

Transform Customer Stress to Customer Loyalty

Stress caused by uncertainty is a real customer emotion that can drive customer loyalty and revenues if a brand manages it well. Who does not appreciate being taken care of? When patients are a brand’s customers, like in the case of Mount Sinai Hospital, the best business approach is to look across your customers’ journeys and find opportunities to bring more certainty and to empower customers with information.

One thing that I do not recommend is to manage a prenatal “school” for future parents without building out the ability to find the address for classes, schedule and purchase online. After three plus calls and going above and beyond with the person on the other end of the phone, I eventually managed to book what I needed. But do I trust the brand as much as they need me to? Will I recommend them to other expectant moms who are eager for information and recommendations? No.

In this case, Mount Sinai missed an opportunity to alleviate one customer’s stress, to promote loyalty, and to create an empowered customer. Make sure your brand doesn’t miss opportunities to turn CX stress into CX success!

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*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.

drowning in data no insights

A Lot of Data, Not Enough Insight

A month ago I saw a Forrester presentation on Customer Experience measurement that began with a great quote from the Global Bank: “We are drowning in data and starving for insight.”

Aren’t we all?

Most organizations have more data than they ever could have wanted. That data, however, sits idle in databases or cloud environments. Or, it is used sub-optimally. Why, for instance, can WeWork build a tool to manage its 350 properties as a website and view every detail about every building digitally, but Fairway regularly emails me with first time user coupons I am not eligible to use as an existing customer?

Make Data Usable

The answer to this question is fundamentally simple, but practically complex. First, centralize and clean the data so it can be used in an actionable way to extract insights. For existing companies this requires organizational redesign. That makes this step complex, political, and difficult to execute.

In one case, a major brand acquired three small start-ups with a strategy to grow its customer base. The brand worked on learning how the three customer segments feel and what each segment wants in order to optimize the brand’s offering with three different products.

Even though this was the correct first step, the strategy did not progress well. The company was not ready to centralize the customer insights systems and the teams of the three distinct brands they had acquired. Each start-up had its own customer database and customer definitions. None was open about giving access to that data.

This case only scratches the surface of how companies miss opportunities with data. Accessing and aggregating data is an essential first step for all organizations. But that is not enough to derive insights. Even after teams and data are centralized and aggregated, insights are not available until the definitions of the data are aligned. How is a customer defined? How far back should the data go? What spend per customer makes that customer “valuable”?

Get Everyone in the Room

Organizations must answer these and many more questions in order to make the capability of data insights available. Often, companies complete the first step. They aggregate the data. But they fail to analyze it and define its key parameters. Why?

The answers should come from the consumers of the insights, not the technology teams that build the insights. And those people are not in the room. Until there is a real engagement by the business and collaboration among teams, no one is going to get insights from their data.

Democratize Data

The last step of getting insight out of data might seem the simplest. But often, it is missing. The quality of insights correlates directly to the quality of the questions we ask the data. I will repeat that. The questions asked of data are the engine of the insights derived from data.

This is where democratizing the cleaned data with a user friendly UI is key. Good questions are rarely formed on the spot. As business challenges arise and new situations emerge, questions come out. Data must be readily accessible (no coding or SQL skills required!!) to all. This allows end users to run reports and get the answers they need. And that lets them act in real time.

Successful brands like WeWork turn data into a tool. When companies perceive data as a tool, they create real value for customers. On the other hand, when they fail to take the difficult steps of organizational redesign, or to pay for cleaning the data, customers end up with those coupons they can’t redeem.

View more of our conversations about data. And send us your questions about how to democratize and optimize data to improve customer experience in your organization.

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*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

data tips for customer experience

Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”

Once a year I look for an event or a conference to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year I attended the Forrester Global Council Meeting and the CXNYC2018 Forum in New York.  Usually, the big win from events like this is the opportunity to network and meet new contacts. This year, though, the Council meeting felt like school – which I loved. These are the aha moments I am eager to share with you.

“Stop decorating. Start renovating.”

Do not build a CX strategy that is disconnected from your business strategy and that nobody knows. Don’t maintain a VOC program that tries to fix journeys that were never built with the customer in mind. And stop obsessing over NPS scores versus improving the customer experience.

Instead, focus on your customer needs and what your customers perceive as value, then build your competitive advantage around that. Listen to your employees, who often have the best ideas. Create customer business value. Then execute, execute, execute!

Research is a real thing!

There are many tools customer experience professionals can use to conduct customer research. Depending on which phase of your discovery you are in, or how strategic or tactical the question you are working on answering is, you can use different tools. The broader the question you are asking, the more qualitative your methods should be.

At the discovery phase, when you are looking to find what problems exist, you can do interviews, diary studies or ethnography. If the problems are defined and you need to find the best way to solve those problems, you can get more specific with surveys and usability testing. If you are looking to evaluate a solution that you have built, you can do A/B/multivariate testing and cognitive walkthroughs.

“Data is the new Sexy!”

Customer obsession is nothing more than a dream if you lack the analytics to drive it. You achieve productive customer insights only when you are able to capture and analyze data across channels. CX insight professionals need to be comfortable looking at data from online to offline channels, and they need to derive insights from known data to anonymous data.

Customer analytics methods are interconnected and have dependencies that must be kept in mind. It is impossible to get to customer lifetime value without a solid grasp on customer churn. Understanding the sequence and educating your executives about the complexity and funding required to get end-to-end insights from data is imperative to your organization’s success and your customers’ satisfaction.  Without data, your strategy is based on opinion. You need a data-led strategy to survive.

Now start aggregating data!

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

customer experience career tips

4 Career Tips for CX Professionals

In honor of the 4th of July, we have rounded up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate steps you need to advance to the next level. Continue Reading →

#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.”

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*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.