Tag Archives: Customer advocacy

Think Small to Win Big in Customer Experience

19 Aug

20 cultural nudges for any organisation to keep it real

Words like ‘transformation’ are scary, right? And yet CEOs are always being told that ‘Customer Experience’ is ‘transformational’. Well, maybe, but we also need to get real, and recognize that customer experience is also about delivering today – a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step and all that, so here then is my list of the smaller, more palatable steps to start that journey within the organisation.

START AT THE BEGINNING

  1. Join the dots: ensure that everyone in the organization has a deep understanding of the bigger picture, why this is important and how their own role’s contribution to the customer experience.
  2. Make the vision real: have everyone know what it means to live the brand for your customers and deliver the company’s uniquely branded experience.
  3. Follow the money: connect the cogs to understand the ROI of customer experience and how it drives the bottom line for the business.Start small, even with anecdotes and stated intentions, then track actions.

SIGNAL CHANGE THROUGH CULTURAL NUDGES 

  1. Don’t call it a project or an initiative: they suggest a here-today-gone-tomorrow mindset, an open invitation for cynics to keep their heads down and hope it all blows away like so many other initiatives.
  2. Look outside: admire and learn from the best in the world, whatever the sector, but especially not your own.
  3. Create and evangelize success stories: find, learn from, tell and celebrate stories of great customer experiences delivered.
  4. Get on the floor: get executives and leaders to spend time with and learn from the front-line via real, not stage-managed interactions, and role model new behaviours.
  5. Outlaw silo’d thinking: be alert to call out ‘back office’, ‘head office’ and functional thinking and look for ways to reinforce the mantra, It Only Works When It All Works.
  6. Get on first name terms with personas: create rich and insightful customer personas and put them in all your rooms to watch over – and challenge – decision making.
  7. Change meeting etiquette: start every meeting with a customer story, end every meeting by asking ‘what’s in it for our customers?’

 HELP YOUR PEOPLE TO WIN 

  1. Set the tone on day one: embed customer learning into new hire inductions to build customer empathy. Learning about internal processes comes later.
  2. Create internal advocates: make it easy for everyone to be advocates of the brand and – wherever possible – active users of the product.
  3. Harness employee power: find ways to make their voice heard, use their knowledge, experience, insights and energy to improve the customer experience.
  4. Recognise and reward, quickly and easily – find simple and informal ways to call out and celebrate great delivery. Hand written notes can make a huge difference.

EMBRACE CUSTOMERS

  1. Talk to customers: yes, I know. Obvious, right. Get leaders to ring lost customers, make visits and generally connect one to one with the customer. Invite them to internal conferences and generally find ways to bring them in and learn from them.
  2. Close the loop: on the other hand, don’t talk to them, unless you’re prepared to act on what you learn, and change things for the better. And never forget to them what you’ve done. Doing this can work wonders, and it creates a halo effect too.
  3. Give the benefit of the doubt: if in doubt, err on the side of the customer, and make sure your internal policies help not hinder customers.
  4. Have some respect: Change the language. Customers are people, not targets and stop asking ‘who owns the customer’? (The answer is, if anyone owns anyone these days, it’s your customers who own you.)
  5. Give to get: find small and spontaneous ways to surprise, thank and delight customers, and create positive memories and stories.
  6. Be social media savvy: recognize that great customer experiences are the best marketing there is today, so fix things super-fast.

‘Always give more’. Kindness and humanity in business.

6 Feb

There’s a great new post from Seth Godin on the 11 things organisations can learn from how airports screw up the customer experience. It strikes at the heart of how many organisations lose the plot in their relentless pursuit of revenue at all costs. Godin’s conclusion is that “in pursuit of reliable, predictable outcomes, these organizations dehumanise everything”.Slide1

I want to pick up on three of his 11 points, which seem to me to help identify how this ‘dehumanisation’ occurs:

  • Firstly, when no one in the organisation seems to be having any fun
  • Secondly, when delighting customers is stripped out of the system, and replaced by the desire to simply satisfy the ‘mass’, as opposed to the individuals that make up the mass  
  • Thirdly, when ad hoc action and behaviour is forbidden

In short, basic humanity becomes a hindrance, something not factored into the ‘business model’. But routine and predictable do not make for memorable and engaging customer experiences. In the world of customer metrics, it’s the difference between a customer’s being on the one hand, merely ‘satisfied’, and on the other, being so delighted that they remember, they recommend and they stay longer and buy more. 

Show the humanity

How then do organisations seek to bring back the humanity? Cue what are often called Random Acts of Kindness or Frugal Wows (ugh – ugly terminology but interesting ideas). I want to share a few good examples of these and to draw a distinction between:

  • ‘Random’ acts, which are individual responses to ‘in bound’ customer situations, and which rely on empowering the front line (and beyond) to use their judgement and bring their humanity to work, and …..
  • …the other sort of acts of kindness or generosity I see and admire, which are more ‘proactive’ in the sense that they are enshrined in the organisational culture (how we do things around here) and affect – for the good – all customers.

Random Acts of Kindness:

Virgin Media in the UK (who it is announced today are being sold) operate a RAK programme, where staff are encouraged to deliver an act of kindness when they feel it’s the right thing to do. And, of course as the slide says, the nature of the Virgin brand allows perhaps more creativity and quirkiness in what exactly IS the right thing. And that’s why they can be so memorable and heart-warming. A good example is how, on hearing that on settling down to watch the Transformers film with his grandchildren the granddad’s 24 hour hire limit on the download had expired (this was about the 4th time he’d watched it!), Virgin then sent him a DVD of the film so he could watch it anytime with the grandchildren, plus a transformers toy, to try to make up for the disappointment.Slide1

In another example, BUPA International has a scheme for all staff, whereby they have a small amount of money each year they can use to delight the customer, however they see fit. The only condition is, you cannot use it to ‘buy off’ an unhappy complaining customer. The same theme runs through how Virgin use RAKs, they are NOT to say sorry, or apologise for an error.  

The power of both of these examples is that they are a great mechanism to force the member of staff to think about how to delight the customer and to bring their humanity to work (how would I feel, what would delight me?). Indeed, the word from Sean Risebrow at Virgin Media is that the real value of the scheme lies in the internal message it sends to the whole workforce about how serious the organisation is in dealing with the customer.

Planned Acts of Kindness:

In contrast to random and occasional individual acts, there are also what I call Planned acts, that give an insight into the corporate culture, because they forcibly demonstrate its values and how it seeks to behave all the time.  Here are two examples of organisations proactively choosing to do the right thing, where the alternative is not to act, but to wait and see if anyone out there notices and then complains! 

Watch this short film, from 2010, which illustrates one of Amazon’s values, “customer obsession” with a fascinating story about delivering a retrospective and unexpected benefit back to customers. So, a proactive move to benefit all customers affected, simply because ‘that’s how we do things round here”. And, as with all of these examples, there ought to be a positive impact on the bottom line. It is interesting that in the speaker’s view, it was the best marketing activity they did that year.

Another good example comes from Evelyn Clark’s article, Around the Corporate Campfire, where Jim Sinegal of Costco tells a story about pricing jeans, which again highlights the tension between short term profits, and doing the right thing by the customer:

“We were selling Calvin Klein jeans for $29.99, and we were selling every pair we could get our hands on. One competitor matched our price, but they had only four or five pairs in each store, and we had 500 or 600 pairs on the shelf. We all of a sudden got our hands on several million pairs of Calvin Klein jeans … at a very good price. It meant that, within the constraints of our markup, which is limited to 14% on any item, we had to sell them for $22.99”. Now, they could have sold all 4 million pairs for that higher price almost as quickly as they sold them at $22.99, says Sinegal, “but there was no question that we would mark them at $22.99 because that’s our philosophy”.

Both of these Planned examples are fascinating because they demonstrate an organisation proactively choosing to act to benefit customers when it could just as easily have chosen NOT to do so, and to maybe wait to see if anyone noticed and complained. Instead, they referred to their founding principles, or brand values, call them what you will, but their accepted rules drove the ‘right’ behaviour.

Sure, it’s a leap of faith, but the financial benefit from giving more (in order to get more in return later) surely makes sense.

What would your organisation do in these situations?

If you don’t believe in it, it’s just another metric – five CEOs talk Net Promoter

17 Nov

A cosy fireside kind of chat filmed by Bain (who co-created NPS), with five CEOs talking with passion about the Net Promoter system.

I like the emphasis on using NPS to strive for greatness, how the voice of the customer should make it safe for everyone to do the right thing, and maybe best of all, the importance of breaking NPS out of the marketing ghetto and the metrics-and-measurement mindset. 

http://www.netpromotersystemblog.com/2012/02/03/a-conversation-with-five-ceos/

Is your executive team faking it?

15 Nov

What happens when the boardroom door closes? Does anyone mention the c-word, ‘customer’? And, is it someone other than the marketing director?

This is a great shortlist from Bruce Temkin (of the customer experience consultancy Temkin Group and also the CXPA of which I’m a member) on how to tell if the executive team really mean it, when it comes to customers, and to sort out the toe-dippers from the advocates. The last one is the real killer, in my view – to what extent will they trade off short term profits but which damage customer advocacy, for the longer term (more speculative) gain in customer goodwill (and thus financial rewards for the business too).

http://experiencematters.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/8signsofexeccommitment2.png

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