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Adversity brings out true character

There’s a saying that you can really tell a lot about people’s character by seeing how they handle adversity.  Sure, when things are going well, everybody’s got a great disposition, the idea goes.  But it’s when we’re tested that our true selves show through.

I was thinking of that recently when we had an Internet outage here at home.  Now, anybody who expects perfect 100% around-the-clock unfailing coverage of services such as Internet is being unreasonable.  I’m not sure what planet those Customers call home, but it’s not the one of humans and systems that go down from time to time.  So yes, failure, even if rare, is inevitable.  And that’s the point that brings us around to that old saying:  How well brands plan for the inevitable (and therefore totally foreseeable, if not specifically schedulable) failures of their systems—and this goes for those brands who sell products too, not just service providers—tells us a lot about their dedication to their Customers.

It’s pertinent because here’s what happened: (more…)

By | 2021-12-02T16:01:36+00:00 December 2nd, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Excuses versus solutions

You’ve heard this before, right?  “Due to current circumstances, we’re experiencing longer-than-usual wait times.”  Those “circumstances” can vary.  Over the past twenty months, of course, it has been Covid-19.  Sometimes it’s the holidays.  Sometimes brands stiff-arm you without even giving you the courtesy of telling you why.  There’s even a brand that I call rarely…maybe once or twice a year…and they’ve been using the longer-than-usual wait times idiom as long as I can remember.  Whenever was it ‘usual’?

Here’s the thing:  Things are tough all over. (more…)

By | 2021-11-17T16:03:42+00:00 November 17th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

VoC begets VoC

I’m always championing active use of your Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights.  After all, I say, if you’re just collecting your Customers’ insights but not doing anything with them, that’s a huge waste of resources.  Normally when I talk about that, I’m referring to the importance of having a robust and enterprise-wide Process Engineering (PE) function within your company:  A group of process experts whose job it is to take those insights and put them to use improving and updating your procedures, processes, and policies so as to better align your Customers’ experiences with your Brand Promise.  It’s the engine of your CX function; it’s what makes all that effort worthwhile in the first place.

But, did you know you can also use your VoC insights to inform…your VoC work itself?  When you gain insights about gaps between your Customers’ experiences and your Brand Promise, surely you’re feeding into the bigger CX ecosystem with direction on where to improve your processes.  But you’re also offering insights into what better questions you can ask within your VoC program itself.  Although you need to have more going on than just surveys, usually they’re the biggest (and most visible) part of the VoC program.  But surveys aren’t usually all that dynamic.  It isn’t often that brands crack them open and update the questions they’re asking.  That’s a shame because with the freedom that many survey vendors allow for their clients these days, updating and changing your survey questions is often relatively simple. (more…)

By | 2021-11-10T15:52:56+00:00 November 10th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics, VoC|0 Comments

Are we challenging CX?

One of the roles we, as CX professionals, play, is that of change agents.  I realize that’s a term people toss out there when they want to seem important or progressive in business, but when you think about it, one of the core jobs we have is to challenge people to take a different perspective; that of the Customer.

In fact, a Process Engineer who used to work for me would say all the time that we need to ‘take off our corporate hat and put on our Customer hat.’  It was a great metaphor, and we even had hats made up for the entire CX team that read “Customer”, one of which I still have on my desk at home. (more…)

By | 2021-11-03T15:33:41+00:00 November 3rd, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics, Process Engineering|0 Comments

Where’s your deli?

Here’s a random thought that occurred to me the other day.  I promise I’m going somewhere with it, though:

The deli should be at the front of a grocery store.  Now, I’m in way over my head here, because I’m sure that there’s a lot that goes into the planning of the layout of such places and I’m no expert—an expert may tell me why I’m totally wrong from some sort of architectural perspective or feng shui reasoning.  But I’m going to stick with this proposition, at least from a Customer’s perspective:  Folks who are just running in to pick something up are often looking for something quick to eat, or perhaps are in a panic that they’ve got sudden guests.  Come to think of it, for that matter, the bakery should be out there too.  And you know what else?  (I’m getting greedy now, I know, I know.)  Put it on the side of the store where you also have the self-checkout lanes (if you only have them on one side). (more…)

By | 2021-10-28T14:46:39+00:00 October 28th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

What do you want on your Tombstone?

Do you remember the old commercial for Tombstone Pizza?  The tagline was, “What do you want your tombstone?”  (By the way, if you clicked through and it’s driving you crazy, the character actor is a fellow by the name of Oliver Muirhead, and if you also share my obsession with Seinfeld, he played Lubeck the pastry appraiser in the episode “The Frogger” who told Peterman that he could get an Entenmann’s—who do not have a castle in Windsor—in the display case at the end of the aisle.)  Dark humor aside, it made me wonder how we sometimes gear our VoC programs to hear what we want to hear, and as a result, back our Customers into a corner.

Let’s take a deeper look at that. (more…)

By | 2021-10-20T15:20:38+00:00 October 20th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, VoC|0 Comments

Easier for whom?

As an Air Force Reservist, I’m always on the lookout for the ‘military discount’ to save a buck or two.  Many brands offer a markdown of some sort:  Flash your Common Access Card (CAC, the unnecessary obviously-has-to-be-an-acronym term we use to mean, “Military ID”) at checkout, and a lot of places knock 5, 10, or even 15 percent off the total for your purchases. (more…)

By | 2021-10-13T14:38:09+00:00 October 13th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

CX is about more than competence

If you manufacture widgets, you may have market dominance based on being super-duper great at making widgets.  Perhaps you’ve got a niche in a particular type of widget or a certain feature.  Likewise, if you’re a service provider and you have perfected a certain sort of experience in delivering that service to your market, you’re likely in a very comfortable position because when people want not just the service you provide, but want it in the way you provide it specifically, they know you’re the one to deliver.  In either instance, however commoditized your product or service has become, you’ve differentiated yourself (and so have become very competent in that differentiated experience) enough that within the world of what you sell, how you deliver yours is what you’re known for…business comes to you from people who want it like you do it.  And to put a finer point on it, lots of business doesn’t come to you (because other players in your field offer these things with a different touch that you don’t care to provide), and that’s cool too.

Wise players in certain lines of business own several different brands that can appeal to various tastes:  Nissan owns Infiniti, for example; and the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) includes brands ranging from Kimpton and Crowne Plaza to Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.  Smart leaders in these organizations will maintain overarching corporate principles and values, but leave the branding (and fulfillment of the distinct Brand Promises) to each of their subsidiaries to best leverage their respective niches. (more…)

By | 2021-10-06T15:02:17+00:00 October 6th, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

When Customer support is the problem

Nothing is 100%.  Things fail, products break, even very important services go dark from time to time.  A Customer who expects and demands perfection is certain to be disappointed pretty often, and in fact is being somewhat unreasonable, if you ask me.

With this understood and its obvious importance, then, why is Customer Support so often the place where CX takes the hardest hit?  Surely some Customers are emotional or freaking out when something doesn’t go right.  But for the most part, people understand that accidents happen and we live in an imperfect world.  As upset as a Customer may be, when they call in needing support, they’re likely entering with a good degree of generosity and goodwill, even if tinged a bit by anxiety.  So why do so many brands squander that? (more…)

By | 2021-09-22T14:55:09+00:00 September 22nd, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

For CX success, re-evaluate your purpose

May I offer a modest suggestion about CX?  Here it is:

The purpose of Customer Experience as an endeavor (a department, a practice, a field of study, etc.) is to improve the alignment between what your company says it’s all about (call it mission/vision, corporate values/principles, or simply Brand Promise) and the experience your Customers have when they interact with your brand. (more…)

By | 2021-09-15T15:04:48+00:00 September 15th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments