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Don’t ask questions if you already know the answers

A good lawyer never asks a question for which he doesn’t already know the answer.  That’s not necessarily just about being smart and being prepared.  Frankly, it’s a manipulation technique used to sway juries and judges:  When they get a witness on the stand, the most important thing for an attorney is to control the situation and allow just the right narrative to come through to the audience.  People can object to the ethics, but the technique is age-old.

When we in the CX field speak of a similar rule, not asking questions to which we should know the answer.  Likewise, it’s not about just being prepared; it’s more in speaking to respect for our Customers.  Normally we are referencing surveys, and I’ll start with that, but there’s also another application of this rule I’ll mention in a minute. (more…)

By | 2021-02-09T16:14:29+00:00 February 9th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Metrics: Output vs. Outcomes

Y’all know I’m a big fan of metrics.  Long before I was in CX, I was in Process Engineering (Lean Six Sigma and Operations Research), and long before that I was an analyst.  My BS is in Mathematics, and I teach Statistics at the Air Force Academy.  So yea, I dig numbers.  I write about them a lot.

I was chatting with a colleague the other day and he had an awesome turn-of-phrase regarding metrics that I’d never heard of before.  He’s the leader of an international organization and we were talking about strategies and how important it is to ensure that leadership’s highfalutin strategies and visions are made real to team members in their own day-to-day work.  This is a standard theme in leadership and management:  Sure, we can design strategies and missions and visions for our organizations, but of course it’s the folks working on executable actions every day that are the champions who carry the deliverables across the goal lines.

Naturally, that turns to metrics.  But simply having metrics isn’t enough.  If you leave it to the visionaries and the leaders (CEOs, Presidents, Boards of Directors) to name the top-level KPIs but don’t boil down what that means that I, as a part of the team, am supposed to do, we’ll never get anywhere.  Turning numbers into results requires communicating, and sometimes translation.  My friend offered a great way of framing the challenge of driving higher-level metrics into operational, measurable goals.

He said, it’s the difference between Output and Outcomes, and it helps frame out how we all work together to deliver for our Customers. (more…)

By | 2021-02-04T15:58:13+00:00 February 4th, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics|0 Comments

Channel Surfing

I have covered my experience using Twitter to solve a support problem in a previous article.  For many CX (and definitely Customer support) professionals, the channel is ‘the thing’.  We often talk about switching channels, being multi-channel, being omni-channel.  It sometimes seems like an obsession.

A colleague recently posted in one of the online discussion forums to which I belong in all caps (which I’ll spare you here) that “nobody” likes being moved from one channel to another.  I suppose among a lot of CXers, it’s an article of faith that you should never, unless absolutely necessary (and, they’ll say, it should never be absolutely necessary) switch a Customer to another channel.  Furthermore, some will say that you should be available and excellent in every channel.

I’m not so sure. (more…)

By | 2021-02-01T16:22:38+00:00 February 1st, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

A letter you never sent

Dear Customer:

Thank you for your recent feedback.  We always enjoy taking the time to better understand where we fall short of expectations as it offers us the opportunity to do something we love to do:  Improve how we serve our Customers.  As such, your insights and thoughts are incredibly valuable to us.

Incidentally, although it may seem counter-intuitive, we’re also grateful that you’ve told us explicitly that you’re “never going to buy anything from [our] terrible company again.”  While we regret to see you go, by making it abundantly clear (from that statement as well as the other quite colorful things you had to share with us in your letter) that we’ve lost you “forever” as a Customer, you’ve actually saved us resources and energy in attempting to make things right for you in particular with this specific situation.  Since, thanks to your telling us so unequivocally, we know there’s “no way on this green Earth or the entire Universe” that you’ll “ever spend another red cent” on our products, our Customer service and support teams can better concentrate their limited resources and time on other priorities—and our remaining Customers—instead.

So again, thank you especially for saving us those resources.

Furthermore, and quite helpfully, the specific problem you brought to our attention highlighted an issue that we discovered is bothering a lot of our (otherwise, still existing) Customers.  Being so dedicated to our (again, existing) Customers’ satisfaction, we very quickly went to work and not only fixed that problem in our processes, but made the entire experience even better!

In fact, this improvement we’ve made to our system won’t simply make things better for those Customers we still have.  It actually saved us money as we uncovered not only these things that are aggravating from a Customer’s perspective, but also inefficient and wasteful of our own resources, time, and money in and of themselves.  It’s a win-win!  As a result of these improvements, we’ve been able to pass along these savings to our enduring Customers by way of issuing them a 25% voucher when they return to buy from us again.  Come to think of it, since it won’t be necessary to extend this goodwill gesture to you (since you’re no longer a Customer, and according to your decision never again will be no matter what we do), you’ve saved us even more money!

Of course, the irony here is that we also recognize that none of this would have been possible were it not for your—vivid—note to us calling our attention to our initial failing.  So, as a token of our appreciation, please find enclosed a $20 gift card for Starbucks.  There’s likely a location near your home where you can take it to enjoy a drink or snack.  You see, we hold a weekly contest here for our front-line team members to come up with thoughts on improving our Customers’ experiences…this is the usual prize we award to the best idea.  We hope you enjoy it because with your efforts you certainly earned it!

Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!



By | 2021-01-28T17:49:16+00:00 January 28th, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Employees are NOT your Customers

Can I start a controversial article being completely uncontroversial?  Thanks.  Here goes:  Good employee engagement is an absolute requirement in order to drive good CX.  Okay… now, feel free to refer to that as you read on, because I’m not trying to say that engagement isn’t fundamental; in fact, it’s a bedrock necessity if you’re going to provide a good Customer experience that you first ensure you are providing a good employee experience.

With that throat-clearing out of the way, I was shocked (shocked!) when a nontrivial number of contributors (all CX pros) to a forum in which I recently participated seemed confused about the difference between Customers and employees. (more…)

By | 2021-01-25T16:12:42+00:00 January 25th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Leadership|0 Comments

Processing your survey results

Recently I fielded a question about NPS survey data:  How do you process it?  How do you use it?  I popped off a quick response, but I’d like to go a little deeper on the topic here.

First of all, it’s not a specific NPS question.  It doesn’t matter what sort of survey you send out or (exactly) what sort of question(s) you ask.  I’m also limiting this article to a discussion about survey data per se.  There are tons of other sources of data that should be part of your broader Voice of the Customer (VoC) program.  But this is just about the data that comes from your surveys.  From those surveys, at the end of the day, you’ll likely be faced with two different types of data, each with its own purpose:  Score data and Amplification data. (more…)

By | 2021-01-21T16:47:10+00:00 January 21st, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics, VoC|0 Comments

Do you hear yourself?

Have you ever had to say to a friend, “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”?  I remember a client who used that to describe some of the interactions their managers would have with front-line employees as an example of the need for a professional communications course I offered at the time.  But aside from your partner or spouse or personal relations, it’s surprising how frequently we come across businesses that seem not to grasp the concept of simple politeness. (more…)

By | 2021-01-18T16:06:50+00:00 January 18th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Do you love your Customers as much as your employees do?

We hear all the time that hiring is destiny:  You have to be very careful when looking for new team members—especially those who are on the front-line and Customer facing—that they’re empathetic, Customer-focused, and just plain nice.  In fact, there’s an entire cottage industry growing around hiring for your support/services/sales teams to ensure you’ve got the right fit.  Once they’re in the door, we spend tons of time (and money!) explaining our processes and procedures to our new hires so they can make an impact right away.  We may enable them with some of the greatest technology, give them awesome benefits packages, and even stock the fridge in the break room for them.  Volleyball pits, shuffleboards, ping-pong, you name it.  We’ve given them everything they need for work, and play, it seems.

Then they sit down at their desks, put on their headsets, and take calls.

And the wheels fall off. (more…)

By | 2021-01-14T15:29:36+00:00 January 14th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

When you can’t answer, “Why?”

I wrote recently about an incident at a local grocery store that sparked some thought about how sometimes we provide excuses instead of offering solutions.  Likewise, sometimes at my gym, I come across a piece of equipment that’s out of order for some reason or another.  Usually, there’s a note pinned to it alerting us that it’s not to be used.  To some degree, I’m sure the team member whose job it is to put that sign on the equipment considered his job ‘done.’  The person whose job it is to fix it?  That’s another story.

Anyway, the punchline of these and other similar experiences is that Customers aren’t as interested in hearing about why their experience can’t be better (what we’d call in other scenarios “excuses”), they just want them to be better. (more…)

By | 2021-01-11T16:32:23+00:00 January 11th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments