Tag Archives: Customer Management

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

 

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The good, the bad and the ugly

7 Dec

Slide1

Customer experience is hot right now – there are plenty of great reports and facts and figures out there that help sell the story. Some are more powerful than others, some are plain worrying and some continue to highlight the deep void between the corporate view of the world and customers’ view. Here then is a roundup of some of my favourite numbers, pulled from a wide range of sources and commentators, the good the bad and the ugly. So, do the maths, and work out for yourselves where the real issues lie.

The good news is largely about what organisations say about themselves and their ambitions and plans. The bad and the downright ugly truths are much less about talking the talk, and much more about walking it too. And, as always, when you get down to the ugly truth, it’s all about the culture in the business. After all, every business that has customers is really in the people business.

 

THE GOOD

  • 97% of global executives say that customer experience is critical to their success (1)
  • 90% of executives claim that customer experience management is a top corporate priority (2)
  • 85% of customers state that they are willing to pay up to 25% more for a superior customer experience (3)
  • 81% of senior managers believe that gaining an understanding from the customer viewpoint is very likely to lead to ROI (4)
  • 59% of large global organisations have an ambition to provide the best customer experience in their industry (5)

THE BAD

  • 79% of those who complained about poor customer service online had their complaints ignored (6)
  • 61% of customers agree that ‘different people approach the handling of issues when something goes wrong differently’. Clearly, inconsistency in treatment is always going to be unsettling. (7)
  • While 80% of big companies described themselves as delivering “superior” service, only 8% of customers say they’ve experienced “superior” service from these same companies. It’s a similar story in banking: while 78% of executives say their customer experience has improved over the last year, only 28% of their customers agree (8)

THE UGLY

  • 96% of executives say that some culture change is needed in their organisation (9)
  • Only 31% of employees are truly ‘engaged’ with their organisations, across Europe (10)
  • 30% of managers are coping with 6 or more strategic initiatives at any one time (11)
  • Only 18% of consumers globally believe that business leaders tell the truth (12)
  • Only 8% of companies can confidently declare that they have been successful in changing their culture as a result of customer feedback (13)
  • Only 5% of companies actually bother to tell their customers what they have done with the customer feedback they collect  (14)
  • Only 4% of customers actually bother to feedback and complain to the company – the other 96% don’t bother. (15)
  • Only 4% of global companies are judged to be delivering excellent customer experiences (16)
  • A mere 2% of customers feel that their expectations are always met (17)

SOURCES:

  1. Oracle
  2. Forrester, 2013
  3. Right Now, 2010
  4. Institute of Customer Service, 2011
  5. Temkin, 2012
  6. Kissmetrics, 2013
  7. Beyond Philosophy 2010, CX Trend Tracker
  8. The New Yorker, Bain Consulting and People Metrics
  9. Booz and Co 2013
  10. Blessing White, 2013
  11. Simplicity Consulting, 2011
  12. Edelman Trust Barometer, 2013
  13. Syngro, Seven global challenges 2012
  14. Gartner
  15. Helpscout, 2012, quoting Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner
  16. Temkin, 2012
  17. Oracle – 2012, the Era of Impatience

Nine ways for organisations to kill great ideas

25 Oct

Slide11. Normalise it: by turning it into yet another project, to be assessed and prioritised alongside 100 other projects. Yes, a structured discipline around making things happen is important, but great ideas are vulnerable when born, they can all too easily lose their essence and excitement when translated into the normative language and management behaviours of the organisation.

2. De-personalise it: in other words, lose sight of the customer it is trying to help, by literally sucking the life out of it and turning it into numbers, projections, and assumptions. Numbers are important too, but it’s far too easy to create distance between ourselves and the customer. The end result? We only talk about customers as targets and segments, and how to extract value from them. 

3. Patronise it: “you’re not from round here, are you? Let me tell you, we tried this before and it didn’t work…” And, the bigger the company, the more likely it is to also secretly believe it’s too big to fail, and why meddle with a formula that’s served us well so far?

4. Reduce it: by de-risking it. Failure is not an option, really, and besides the idea is competing with many others that have traded risk off by reducing scope and ambition. So, this becomes the game to play, but beware the implications for your idea by de-risking it.

5. Grow it: have you noticed how everyone wants to embrace a good idea, and add their own twist, and pet ideas to it? Scope creep is always a risk, you don’t want your idea to become the universal panacea, that fixes everything, because what began life as a swan, a simple, elegant and achievable solution can easily morph into a  Frankenstein, a hastily stitched-together collection of ideas, all seeking to become real, by attaching themselves to the original..

6. Quarantine it: in splendid isolation. Great ideas are the result of multiple departments, if not the whole organisation, collaborating together and marching to the same tune in the same direction at the same time. Not departments ignoring each other and always competing for budget to achieve their own functional goals.

7. Disown it: literally speaking, remove the owner, its originator. The reality is, the cast is constantly changing (maybe even more so than the customers, ironically), so just change priorities and agendas, re-organise departments and / or people and before you know it, the idea is an orphan. Which, even if it is successfully adopted, will most likely then be forensically re-examined, taken apart and re-built in a different guise.

8. Stall it: by setting the pack on it and ask smart but let’s face it, unhelpful questions, ones that don’t really have answers at this early stage, or ones that sow the seeds of doubt. How statistically significant is the data? What’s the ROI? There’s nothing like smart talk to kill an idea. The sad fact is it is a lot simpler and easier to stay sitting down and ask questions than it is to stand up and support and sponsor an idea.

9. Smother it: in bureaucracy and committees, where it may never see the light of day again (or certainly not in its current form).

 

 

Surviving and thriving in the brave new world of customer experience

27 Jun

Slide1Without doubt, the world of customer experience is changing. I heard a great quote at a conference the other day, when the speaker said that we’ve moved from a world where companies had better technology than their customers, to one where the consumer has the better technology, and at his or her fingertips, than the companies we do business with, many of whom are hampered by old, complex, and multiple systems. Wow. That’s quite a shift in power.

That got me thinking. Lots of commentators talk now about how the world is radically changing as a result of the consumer’s new found power and status. Here then is my round up of the shifts in thinking and behaviour required for organisations to adapt to the new realities, survive and thrive.

  OLD WORLD COMPANIES… NEW WORLD COMPANIES…
EXTERNAL   ORIENTATION Serve shareholders. If making money is the goal, then shareholders and other investors, whose interests are typically short term in nature, are the masters. Serve customers. Their philosophy is, if you get it right for your customers, day in day out, then profit takes care of itself.
TIME   HORIZONS Live for the short term: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Obsesses about making more money today out of its customers. Manage and plan around a different timeframe because they value the rewards that come from longer term thinking. And, they forgo the quick buck because the price to the business – losing customer trust and engagement – is simply too high a price to pay.
ORGANISATIONAL   FOCUS Are schizophrenic. They talk a good game publically about customers when necessary, and spam the organisation with posters and propaganda, but this doesn’t permeate the DNA. So, at other times, and in other meetings, the customer is entirely absent. Not only does this create confusion internally, it ultimately signals a lack of authenticity in the business. Are single minded in ensuring that the customer agenda pervades the business, in everything it does. (This is partly because they’ve joined the dots between happy customers and happy CFOs.) And that everyone is connected to the   customer agenda and how the business serves its customers. After all, if your own people aren’t proud of the customer experience they deliver, how can you expect customers to get excited?
ORGANISATIONAL   LANGUAGE Call customers (and   people) “assets”, talk about “share of wallet”, “target customers” and “owning” the customer. In these businesses, customers are numbers and scores in KPI dashboards. Are humble. They understand that the organisation needs its customers more than its customers need it. And, do all they can to relate to their customers, one by one, as   people, not numbers.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DESIGN Create Frankenstein experiences for their customers: silo’d and fragmented companies create ugly, stitched-together experiences that feel disjointed, inconsistent and random. Understand that great customer experiences can’t be left to chance; they are designed with intent and require a seamless orchestration of the whole enterprise. This is how the notorious silos get busted.
LISTENING   TO, AND ACTING ON, FEEDBACK Conduct market research every now and then, query its statistical significance, what to act on and what not, and schedule improvements for next year’s plan (because delivering this year’s plan is already an impossibility) Treat feedback like oxygen, something the business needs every day to survive. They constantly listen and constantly act on the voice of the customer, and make sure the   customer sees this happen too.
CUSTOMER CLOSENESS Keep the customer at arm’s length. They’ll push periodic sales campaigns out, and control the script when selling to customers. And, yet when the customer has a query, it’s like they’re in hiding and it’s a long and lonely road to get an   answer. Jump to it. They work hard to break down the barriers, make ‘customer effort’ an important yardstick and welcome and seek out opportunities to talk and meet with   customers, who even turn up at internal conferences.
REPORTING AND   GOVERNANCE Value data and measure and monitor everything that moves. The result? Paralysis by analysis, or as I heard recently, they suffer from DRIP: they are Data Rich, Insight Poor. Ask ‘So what’? For them, less is more because they understand what really matter to customers (and therefore what drives business success), and are relentless in   challenging the data and then acting on it.
PEOPLE POWER Use targets, metrics and scripts to control and drive what their ‘employees’ are paid to do. This invariably makes it harder for the workers to do the job the customer wants   them to do.In these companies,   the Golden Rule is, would my boss be happy with my actions? Know that everything begins and ends with people, without whom there is no business. They obsess over recruiting the right people and then letting them be themselves. This   means doing the right thing for customers because the organisation sees the value in doing so.Here the Golden Rule is, if the customer was in the room, listening and observing, would they approve of my actions?

Sorry doesn’t seem to be the hardest word any more

24 Apr

Slide1

In the good old days (for “good”, read “bad”) when a company screwed up, it was a case of wait and see who notices, deal with complaints as and when they come in, and hope that nobody goes to the press. When (or if) the spotlight was finally thrown on the miscreant, a written statement to the press would have told us that the company had learned its lesson, and that such things just cannot happen today, etc. 

Well, some things don’t change; wait and see if we get caught still seems prevalent – but what does seem to have changed is the way that companies recognise they need to be much more proactive, sincere and even ‘human’ in how they respond, and to mean it!

 Saying sorry is the new black. It’s certainly not the hardest word any more    

 Take a look then at this little collection of video apologies (or, what passes for apologies, in some cases). Some are very new, some older. Thanks are due especially to the Wall St. Journal for a 2011 article that captures some good ones (referenced at the foot of this post).    

 Eurostar

 Although it looks like it was filmed in a broom cupboard, this one scores for being timely, rough and ready and, more importantly, ‘real’. And, the compensation offer is appropriately generous! 

JetBlue Airways

Here is an apology for the logistical snafus that grounded planes and people; pretty straightforward and direct, and again reassures listeners that they will learn, but with the less than specific ‘we’re-going-to-conduct-a-review-so-we-learn’ defence. On the plus side, the choice of venue is interesting – here is the COO, a man in the nerve centre of the operations, not in an anodyne media interview suite, and with his jacket off, so maybe he’s part of the solution, rather than just the spokesman? And, like many public apologies these days (Barclays in their one page ads from last year is a good example) he reminds us that he needs to re-earn our trust.      

SSE

SSE, a UK energy provider, was fined £10.5m this month for miss-selling. Here is the Managing Director of Retail in a video entitled Sorry isn’t good enough’. And yes, he’s at pains to stress that ‘it wasn’t me’, it all happened several years ago. This seems to be a sorry tale of yet another toxic culture, where targets and incentives were designed to benefit the company concerned, at the cost of its customers.  Is he truly remorseful? You decide.

Domino’s Pizzas

For a good and ‘human’ example, look no further. Here is the CEO’s response to a stupid and disgusting prank by two (now ex-) employees in one store. The interesting thing about this video is that it tracks audience reaction to the ‘believability’ of his words. This is a man talking with sincerity, passion and anger – watch how the scores shoot up as he talks of the business “reeling” from the incident, and how it “sickened” him. And of course, extra ticks for being very specific on the actions taken.

Netflix

Two people apologising, and it’s personal, but it seems to morph into a sales pitch for the new service too. Wasn’t much liked on youtube either, but then of course, there was a lot of anger around the move that eventually prompted the apology! Check it out here

Groupon

A good one, from Groupon. Scores for a very detailed explanation for what went wrong, and it’s open and humble.

Sony

Err, what’s with the backdrop ambient music? Maybe too slick? Take a look here.  

Toyota

Again, a nice one, detailed and specific, which is good. Nice to see a freephone number throughout, too, to add to the voiceover.

BP

Enough has been said about the CEO’s “I want my life back” comment already. All I can say is, don’t bother clicking on the link in the WSJ story at the end of this post, as you get a message saying, “This video is private”! Maybe they’ve decided to move on?

What, then, makes a good apology?

From the top – we don’t want to see a PR spokesman forced to go through the motions by his or her boss. We want to see it from the boss, or if not the boss, then the person accountable for ensuring it doesn’t happen again. And we want to be convinced that he or she ‘gets it’. Let’s not forget that a good apology ought to be worth its weight in gold – commentators talk of the Domino’s apology as a classic: by showing his anger and disgust, and moving to action, the CEO repaired many bridges.  

We want to see it – Press releases, full page ads, carefully crafted letters don’t seem to cut the mustard. We want to see sincerity, humility and be convinced that lessons have been learned and that things will change.  

Be specific – we want to feel that the speaker acknowledges the real details of the problem, rather than shies away from them, or talks vaguely. Without them talking about the specifics, the nagging doubt is, do they really understand what went wrong, and what it meant for those affected?

Be timely – better to be proactive, surely, than wait till the chorus of disapproval is deafening. And especially so if the trigger for the apology is a regulatory fine, or other public censure! There, the risk is the apology is perceived as too little too late. 

Actions speak louder – we want to see that the business is taking responsibility, now, and that practical action is being taken, in order to give us some belief that the mistakes of the past cannot be repeated. ‘Root and branch reviews’, internal investigations, audit committees are not the same as actions, by the way..the fear is, they are yet more smokescreen!

 

Finally, thanks to the Wall St Journal, for a 2011 round up of 10 CEO video apologies – I’ve used a few in this post, but for the full article, and access to all 10 (well, 9 given that the BP one has been taken down) click here

10 crazy things companies say and do that sabotage great customer experiences

17 Jan

Now, sabotage may be a strong word – after all, no one sets out to screw things up for customers – but the interesting thing about these 10 classic behaviours is that they are all pretty much insidious, they take their time, and they all serve to eat away at corporate best intentions. As the classic phrase has it, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, so check out my top 10 crazies:   

  1. Yes but….: the curse of ‘smart talk’. Why is it that the more senior you get, the more you feel compelled to critique, query, call for more evidence, ask for more opinions and generally put off saying yes or no? Everything seems to be stacked against just saying, ‘OK, yes, let’s try it”.   
  2. Show me the money now: does anyone seriously believe that all that financial modelling and forecasting years into the future is how it will all play out?  Yes, the connections between customer experience and financial outcomes are there to be proven, but it takes time and it’s not an exact science. So, start with leadership, faith and belief, all just as important as the Excel comfort blanket.
  3. ‘Customer Value Maximisation’: if all that the customer represents to the business is a number or a red/amber/green rating on a dashboard, then pretty soon there’ll be a project called something like this customer value maximisation, which is shorthand for ……how can we get more money out of our customers? Please don’t forget that customers are people too, just like you and me.
  4. You’re not from round here are you? : “I hate to tell you this, but we’re not Apple, John Lewis, Starbucks, Zappos or any of those other customer experience poster children I hear a lot about”. In other words, let’s find ways to patronise you and your idea because you don’t really ‘get’ our business.     
  5. We hear what you say, but …: your feedback (which is valuable to us) will be aggregated with all the other feedback, then prioritised and assessed, and then we might be able to fix the problem. Which is fine, in a way. But of course, let’s not forget that real customers have problems one by one, and they need to be sorted there and then, not just collated for the future. 
  6. Pet Project-itis: Ok, this big old project may not be working out as planned, but we’ve invested far too much in it to pull the plug now. And the further the train is from the station, and the faster it’s going, the harder to reach for the emergency stop button.
  7. You’ve come through to the wrong department: if people go quiet and assume a puzzled faraway look when asked how their job contributes to getting and keeping customers and improving the customer experience, then you may be working in a dysfunctional company. The reality is, it only works when it all works, when the whole organisation works together, to design and then orchestrate the delivery of the experience.
  8. Multi-cultures, multi-companies: ‘culture’ is a difficult thing to pin down. While businesses like to talk about corporate culture and values, the idea of one common shared culture may be over-simplistic, when in reality, bosses and department heads set ‘culture’ day by day, whether consciously or not, through their behaviour. And the more silo’d the business to begin with, the less interaction between departments, the more you’ll find a multitude of cultures. And, one team’s tight-knit, supportive, and progressive culture is another one’s source of amusement, disbelief, scorn and even ridicule. So, work hard to understand the grey shading between teams, departments, countries even, whilst also being clear on what is non-negotiable at the very heart of the corporate culture.       
  9. Messengers don’t like being shot at: when calling out a problem doesn’t make for a pleasant  day at the office – when it risks wrath, humiliation, displeasure or worse  – it becomes so much easier to move that borderline red flag to green, and carry on as normal. As in SNAFU.
  10. A company is known by the people it keeps. Or doesn’t: the reality is, the cast is constantly changing, maybe as much as the customer base, maybe more so. Every business, ultimately, is a people business. If consistency of service and treatment is important, or rather its opposite is very frustrating and unsettling, why not recognise the role that good reliable people play in delivering the ‘promise’. After all, the alternative, treating people as a cost and yet expecting them to go the extra mile for customers is just well… crazy. 

What do we want? When do we want it? Five real-world customer pleas from the heart

9 Jan

While companies love to talk about customer ‘relationship’ and engagement and so on, I often think this is presuming too much too soon. To get to these lofty aspirations takes time, there are no short cuts. Hence my five pleas to remind us all what customers really want.begging for chance - business woman

  1. GET THE BASICS RIGHT

Firstly, just get the basics right, please. Make it easy and painless to deal with you, and do it consistently too. SO, just do what you say you’re going to do. I really don’t want you to get this wrong. That’s not too much to ask for is it?  Get all of that right, and OK, I might do more with you, but there’s no short-cut. Get the basics right first.  

  1. EARN THE RIGHT FOR MORE OF MY BUSINESS

You seem to forget about me. In fact the only time you remember me is when you want to sell me more. That won’t make me like you any more, or help build that ‘relationship’ (odd word, by the way!) you talk about. So, if you can help me get a better deal for no extra cost, then I expect you to tell me. If you don’t, I’ll be angry. And, I do like little freebies where you give me something for nothing. I think that’s a nice gesture, and I won’t forget it.

In fact, I will happily tell my friends about something great you’ve done for me, as it makes me look good too, because it shows I chose well in choosing you! 

  1. TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT

I’m not an idiot – I know that advertising is propaganda. So, please don’t promise me the earth, because, well, chances are you‘ll under deliver and then disappoint me. How about if you treat me like a grown up? Honesty trumps perfection, because the latter is impossible. 

And, I realise mistakes can happen every now and then; after all we’re all human. But, it’s how you deal with it that’s important to me. So, again, I want you to be honest with me, own up to the mistake, and, because you have made a mistake, go the extra mile to get me back on your side and not ruing the day I chose you.  

Finally, don’t pressure me. If I do choose to buy something from you and give you more of my business,  I want to do it when I decide and when it’s convenient for me, not when you contact me with one of your unmissable offers I’d be an idiot to ignore.

  1. STOP MAKING IT ALL SO DIFFICULT

You’re impossible to talk to. You have no idea how much effort it takes to contact you, and the hoops you make me jump through, before I finally get to talk to someone about what I want to talk about. My time is incredibly valuable to me, and yet it feels like you couldn’t care less.

And why is it that when I finally get through to someone, they often can’t help me? Why all these rules, policies, processes, systems and protocols? Why is it that the first person I speak to can’t help me? Why does such a simple request become a Kafka-esque nightmare?

Plus, you don’t seem to listen to me. When you do ask for feedback, and I take my time to give it to you, you don’t ever seem to do anything with it. Or, if you do, you certainly don’t tell me. What exactly do you do with my feedback?

  1. BE ON MY SIDE

I’m not naive. I know you have to make money, and that’s fine, but it’s how you do this that interests me. If you make a lot of money by penalising me – if I make a mistake, or forget, or don’t understand something or lose something – then that feels more like exploitation than a ‘relationship’.  I don’t want you to con me – it would be great if I could feel that you were trustworthy and on my side and gave me the benefit of the doubt from time to time. After all, I am a customer of yours, I’ve chosen to give you my money, so it’s not too much to ask for is it? 

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