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Epic Fail – forewarned is forearmed

13 Nov

12 CX traps for your company to side-step 

Who doesn’t like a good list? Here then are some personal reflections on stuff to avoid, as you embark on CX change.

  1. Lip service leaders who talk a good game
    • shallow support and commitment from fair-weather friends
  2. No navigational North Star
    • no compelling strategy and CX vision to identify the desired on-brand experience and guide design and behaviours
  3. No hard-wiring into the business rhythm
    • CX is an aspiration only without the right governance to drive business decisions
  4. Silo’d solutions for joined-up needs
    • functional and fragmented changes that miss the customer’s bigger picture
  5. Reducing customers to numbers
    • left-brain organisations struggle to recognise customers as people, not targets or statistics
  6. Making CX a project or an initiative
    • giving CX ‘flavour of the month’ status means it will never become ‘the way we do things around here’
  7. Measurement, the corporate comfort-zone
    • obsessing about metrics, reporting and methodology, as a substitute for acting on it
  8. Not winning the crowd
    • not sharing CX stories across the organisation, and joining the dots for everyone between strategy, activity and outcomes
  9. Wanting it all, now
    • unrealistic expectations and corporate impatience resulting in a potential credibility problem for CX activity
  10. Wrong metrics drive wrong behaviours
    • internal, or operationally focused reward metrics can drive unwanted behaviours that reinforce the silos and damage customer outcomes
  11. Fail to plan, plan to fail
    • being seduced by the tools and failing to look beyond the workshops and planning for the long road ahead
  12. Ignoring your own people
    • no mechanisms to harness the great insights and ideas from within, from exactly those people who have a huge interest in their company’s success

 

Who fights for the customer in the boardroom?

4 Dec

SuccessWell, not necessarily marketing, according to this new research report from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

It reveals a worrying lack of support around the top table for marketing. The report title signals the problem well: “Outside Looking In: The CMO struggles to get in sync with the C-suite”.

Why? Because “many organisations still have trouble defining the Chief Marketing Officer’s (CMO) role and responsibilities” and therefore marketing’s priorities. And while the “CMO has a potentially critical ally in its quest, the voice of the customer” it’s alarming to read that:

  •  While over a quarter of CMOs believe they are the voice of the customer at their organisation, only 13% of other C-suite executives agree, and, in fact…
  • 27% of c-suite executives see the Head of Sales as the voice of the customer today…
  • And, more CMOs see the Head of Sales filling this role than they do themselves!

On the plus side, all feel that marketing should step into this role: “The CMO occupies the perfect chair to serve as the disciple for the customer internally”.

What’s holding marketing back? The C-suite believes marketing has not earned the right to be more strategic because it is ineffective at demonstrating the return on investment for its activities. The other big issue comes down to making the “soft stuff” work, in other words getting the c-suite to come together and work collaboratively around the customer agenda: “For many marketing leaders, success will be determined by their ability to align the marketing function – and the entire organisation—around delivering a superior customer experience”.

The soft stuff is also the hard stuff: “CMOs view communication skills and team-building as two of the three of most important skills they need to succeed. The ability to work cross-functionally and break down the internal silos will be key”.

So, marketing needs to break out of marketing and re-shape internal perceptions and the key to this is external, the customer : “If marketing can provide a more comprehensive view of how a customer interacts with the business as a whole, it stands to gain more credibility and more influence in driving strategic change”.

What about the alternative, the new kid on the block, the Chief Customer Officer? As the report suggest, someone needs to transcend organisational and functional boundaries to truly fight for the customer. I’m in the CCO camp, to be honest, but for me the bottom line is: more important that functional background is the need to make sure it’s a strong individual with the respect and support of the C-suite peers and the ability to herd the cats and fight the customer’s battles when the boardroom door closes.

I still struggle with the Head of Sales, though!

Alfred Hitchcock, the subversive master of customer experience

27 Nov

This is a great piece from Wired magazine, about the Hitchcockian dark art of audience management, (what, in this case, we would call customer experience management) as practised by the master, Alfred Hitchcock, the subject of a new film about the making of Psycho, soon to hit the screens.

Hitchcock, the auteur-director was as obsessive about stage-managing the film’s exhibition and reception, as he was about pre-planning every detail of production (he was 

Psycho (film)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

famous for story-boarding almost every shot in advance so that he had already ‘seen’ the film before it was filmed).

 This article gives some great insights into how he crafted the audience’s viewing experience of Psycho, to create the ultimate ‘customer experience’, a terrified audience (and, hopefully, wet seats, an early ‘success measure’ he used in the theatres!)

  So, without ‘spoiling’ the story – click here to read  – the first point “Spoiler Paranoia” is a great example of just how far he was prepared to go to ensure that the audience was (literally) in the dark about what they were about to see.

As well as recognising the marketing and sales potential of word of mouth, he was also a master in the art of managing expectations, and the well-timed publicity stunt. As the article says, he produced  a “Manual for Theatre Goers” warning about the dangers of heart attacks that might occur while watching his film” and hired nurses to be on hand at some cinemas.

 I’ve read some of this guidance material before. He also asks that no one be admitted after the film had started, and also that people watch the entire film, through to the end.  

 All good examples of holistic customer experience: here is a director managing every single detail, right down to how to watch the film, in order to maximise audience enjoyment. And proof too that ‘the devil is in the detail’ when it comes to the art of customer experience management. Probably a phrase Hitchcock would personally have approved of too.

 

‘Falling down’ meets bad customer service. Great short film.

23 Nov

Remember Michael Douglas in Falling Down?

Well, if his beef had been with a call centre, perhaps it would have gone a little like this. Here is a great short film (very cool production values too!) from Sam Kaplan and Michael Williams on the perils of ‘BCS’, that’s Bad Customer Service, to you and me.

Cover of "Falling Down"

Cover of Falling Down

I’ll let the film-makers’ own intro on their site speak for itself:

“The customer service representative hits us at our most vulnerable.  When we are in need of help, when desperation is upon us, when whatever crucial tool of our modern existence has failed us, that  is the moment when BCS inevitably pounces. And so we determined to make a statement about BCS and broadcast it to one and all”.

And, yes, as they say, there is a serious point behind all this too. The fact is, none of us voluntarily chooses to ring up a call centre. When we do, we need help now, and yes, we are indeed often feeling pretty vulnerable too. If you track the highs and lows of a  typical call centre experience – broken down into its constituent parts; waiting; navigation; human contact – it can indeed be an emotional roller-coaster ride. While doing a Michael Douglas may be a tad extreme, you can at least enjoy this film!

Click here to watch the Please Hold Film – Home.

Is your customer experience a Victorian penny dreadful or the greatest story ever told?

21 Nov

I remember reading a great paper from a few years ago in the Journal of Service Research, called “Service Design for Experience Centric Services” that talks about the

English: A Penny Dreadful featuring Dick Turpin

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

similarities between customer experience and plays, novels and films. The main point being to think about and design customer experience as ‘theatre’, and consider the dramatic flow and progression (the start, middle and end) of the customer journey as interactions occur.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about disciplines like customer journey mapping; the paper says we typically tend to remember the high and low points, and the ending, how you feel at the interaction’s conclusion. I would emphasise the word, ‘feel’ here, because it is our emotional response to customer experiences that will stay long with us after the mechanics – the nuts and bolts – of an interaction are long forgotten.

The sad fact is that doing business with companies can often feel like you’re the victim in a lurid Victorian penny-dreadful novel, a sorry tale of seduction, then abandonment. In the relentless hunt for new customers, existing ones tend to be forgotten. After the pursuit and wooing, the honeymoon is over all too soon, and then neglect can set in and current customers can too easily feel forgotten, and, worst of all, not recognised.

All this serves to illustrate the importance of thinking holistically about the total customer experience, and recognising that the experience is cumulative; it builds and builds over time.

So, consider how you orchestrate the dramatic flow of the experience, and how each interaction should add to the customer’s overall perception, and narrative; after all, better for the customer to be starring in the greatest (customer experience) story ever told, than the victim in a penny dreadful.

For a link to the journal, or to buy the paper, click here

Apple unboxed

19 Nov

Apple is rightly legendary for the love and passion its products create. Steve Jobs once said, you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology, and we all know about his relentless attention to detail.

This is reflected in a trend for new proud owners to film themselves unpacking their new purchases. The attached, from thenextweb.com  is a ‘best of’ compilation of exactly such films, this one from last year focused on the ipad 2.

It’s a nice example of the old dictum, the devil is in the detail. Clearly Apple are world class at thinking through the total experience, right down to the box and packaging, and the whole  process of unpacking and exploring your new product.

Two good lesson then for customer journey mappers :

  • Every single detail counts, no detail is too small, and the devil really is in the detail
  • Don’t underestimate the ‘theatre’ of the experience – the emotion created at the each step of the journey, and the ‘dramatic arc’ of exploration from beginning to end

http://thenextweb.com/apple/2011/03/12/apple-is-going-to-love-this-probably-the-best-customer-unboxing-video-ever/

The rise of the cross-channel user experience (and the challenge for business)

16 Nov

Good article in UX matters, on user experience design, the starting premise of which is that “seamless cross-channel experiences are the way of the future, as technology fades into the background and the personal, physical, and social context determine the methods we use to interact with information”.

It goes on to illustrate this with examples from different sectors, and of course, as you might expect, the biggest challenge in delivering will lie within the organisation, as complex, multi-entry, chaotic, non-linear experiences will challenge the old function-driven organisational model and ‘command and control’ approach to customer management.

Interesting times ahead, indeed.

http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/10/the-rise-of-cross-channel-ux-design.php

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