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.

More from DOINGCXRIGHT

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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, but that data is either sitting idle in databases or cloud environments, or it is used sub-optimally. Why is it that WeWork can build a tool to manage its 350 properties as a website and digitally view every detail about every building, but Fairway regularly emails me with first time user coupons that I am not eligible for as an existing customer?

Make Data Usable

The answer to this question is fundamentally simple, but practically complex. The first step is to 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 the business 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. Thus no insights were derived from any of the three brands.

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 available the capability of data insights. Often, companies complete step one, aggregate the data, but fail to analyze it and define the key parameters of it. Why? The answers should come from the consumers of the insights, not the technology teams building the insights. And those people are not in the room. Until there is a real engagement by the business and a collaboration among the teams, no one is getting any insights from their data.

Democratize Data

The last step of getting insight out of data might seem the simplest, but it is often missing. The quality of insights is directly correlated to the quality of the questions asked from 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 very user friendly UI is key. Good questions are rarely formed on the spot. As business challenges arise and new situations emerge, questions come out. It is important that access to the data is readily available (no coding or SQL skills necessary!!) to all so the end users can run reports and get the answers they need – and can act upon – 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. And when they fail to make the difficult steps of organizational redesign and pay for cleaning the data, we receive those coupons we can’t cash in.

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!

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.

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.”

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.

"Companies Need To Focus On Holistic CX Rather Than Tactical CX"

​How To Take CX To A New Level

Many companies strive to achieve high customer satisfaction scores but end up falling short of their goals. One reason is that business teams focus on single parts of the customer journey instead of taking a Continue reading “​How To Take CX To A New Level”

customer experience skills builder

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

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

CX Skills Builder: Own the Customer Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for the next post on AI.

 

 

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

Where Should CX Sit at the Table?

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

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

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

IT

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

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

Marketing

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

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

HR

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

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

Customer Experience

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

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

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

How to Sell the C-Suite on Customer Experience

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

Overcommunicate – Know your audience

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

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

Nothing is decided in the executive meeting/board room

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

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

Cover all your bases

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

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

Have the keys to the gate

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

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

 

 

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

Culture Is King – The Power Of Employee Engagement

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

Keep The Customer In Focus For 2018

In her latest post for JetBlue’s Into the Blue blog series on customer experience lessons learned in 2017, our own Liliana Petrova explores how to combine innovation and knowledge of human behavior to keep the customer in focus at the same time CX professionals are developing new strategies.

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.

 

new year tips doingcxright

What You Need To Do To Start 2018 Right

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

CX Bold Moves: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the DoingCXRight CX Bold Moves stories.

When it comes to customer support we all want the same things. We measure the efficiency metrics FCR (first call resolution), average wait time and talk time. We train our contact center agents to be personal and helpful.  Some of us even build incentives around goals for ancillary sales. When it comes to delivering on those KPIs right, customer experience managers have a lot in common. None of us has figured out how to deliver on all metrics. We are happy if we get one of them right!

Making Customers Feel Good when They Call

At JetBlue, our contact center is our heart. Our Contact Center crewmembers live the company’s mission to inspire humanity. If you want to feel what JetBlue is about, dial 1800 JetBlue where the customer experience is driven by empathy and understanding. And that is before we even train our crewmembers on our hospitality standards (that will happen in a few months as planned on the rollout roadmap).

JetBlue further empowers those crewmembers to be BlueHeros – to act as citizens, protect the JetBlue brand, and do the right thing for the customer when things go wrong. This is how we approach contact center management.

Loyalty that’s Worth the Wait

T-Mobile, self-described “Un-Carrier” is taking on a different approach. Two weeks ago at the Forrester conference in San Francisco, Sid Bothra shared the brand’s new strategy of call centers management. Instead of having frontline agents work from home, T-Mobile launched mini-call center “pods” of approximately 50 people each that cover specific geography and have cross-functional agents. Those groups are managed as P&L centers, not only as cost centers.

This is a completely new and risky approach that maximizes FCR at the expense of wait and talk times. Yes, in the new world, customer calls will not be transferred a second (or third) time. With this design, the agent who knows data sits next to the network specialist and the international calls expert. The agent’s efficiency loss, however, will be substantial and impact both wait and call times.

The results Sid Bothra shared were inspiring. As expected, customers now wait 2x longer (from 40 seconds to 1m-1.3m), but NPS went up by 50% and employee retention increased by 75%. In addition, customer share of the wallet also increased because now, callers are more open to buying ancillary products.

Sid Bothra’s plan is a great example of thinking outside of the box and challenging the norm. Very few traditional call center leaders would agree with this new approach.  In the long run, though, giving employees a sense of ownership of the business is the best way to inspire excellent service and care. It sounds like T-Mobile has found one way to do just that. It is one thing to feel like a cost, a burden to a business. It is another thing to feel empowered to earn money for your company and manage profits for your investors.

Recalibrating Goals

There is a third view on call centers that contradicts both JetBlue’s strategy and T-Mobile’s. Matthew Dixon in his book states that “any customer service interaction is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.”  Dixon argues that our efforts to make customers happy when they reach out to our contact centers is not the right approach because at the point of the call, we have lost their loyalty.  Dixon recalibrates the goal of customer service to mitigate that negative impact by reducing effort because reducing effort is more tangible to the customer and more sustainable to organizations than our current work to delight our callers.

Regardless of the approach, you decide to take with your call center management, I urge you to be disruptive, even to yourself, and not to look at the traditional models. Technology advancements are adding more tools to our toolboxes and the new workforce is looking for more meaning and impact in any job. T-Mobile has addressed both opportunities in a creative and innovative way that has potential to differentiate them in the future.

That could be you!

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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 Bold Moves: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the DoingCXRight CX Bold Moves stories.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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