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…)
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…)
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…)
The other day I spent about 45 minutes round-trip (short by standards…read on) and about $45 mailing Christmas cards. Happy Holidays to our family and friends who receive one from us!
I use the word “mailing” deliberately because that’s all I was doing. I wasn’t shopping for them, digging through my computer to find the file where I keep my list, writing them, addressing them, or stamping them. This was just to mail them. Some of them are a bit bulky, and the box of cards we bought this year (a very clever, diverse, and creative collection of truly lovely cards with lots of adornments and festoonery) even came with the caveat that they “may require additional postage.” So, just to be safe, I bundled up and headed out to the post office. At this time of year, doing that at 5pm wasn’t the best idea, but I got lucky and headed right to the front of the line. That’s where my luck ended. (more…)
The Wall Street Journal has a daily column called “Best of the Web Today.” Its originator, James Taranto, created it as a bit of a light-hearted end-of-the-day quick-hit piece with a bit of political commentary thrown in as well. A recurring gag is to make little jokes about headlines published around the Web that, regardless of the actual story attached, sound funny or irreverent when read on their own. A meme he used a lot was to append a clever label to such headlines as, say, “Florida man critical after bout with runaway gator” pithily with: “Everyone’s a Critic”. When it comes to Customer experience, all of us CXers are, well…critics, no?
And if we’re doing it right, if we’re truly curious and hungry to learn about CX broadly, we’re actually looking for the good and the bad in our experiences with brands. Just like a food critic doesn’t want it known that the restaurant he or she is visiting is being evaluated, lest they go all out to deliver a spectacular meal just for the review, and just like a theater critic wants to (to the extent possible) see the performance through the eyes of his or her readers, we as CX professionals won’t learn much if we all treat each other better than the average Customer.
That has an upside and a downside. We as CX professionals can be the best Customers but also sometimes the worst. (more…)
The turn in the narrative regarding Tony Hsieh’s death has been striking over the past few days as stories (like these in the Journal and Forbes) began to come to light based on accounts from those who knew him better than the rest of us who had merely admired him from afar. While the universal impression remains that it’s a shame to lose such a great mind and spirit who had so much left to offer, those who have revered Tony as an inspiration (not only to CX and business in general, but also his philanthropy, sense of community, and overall joie de vivre) having never known him personally may be left wondering: What was that all about? (more…)
This spring and summer have been rough on travel. My partner and I actually had a hotel cancel our reservation after the world ended. It was complicated by the fact that we’d used a combination of credit card points and cash to make the reservation for two different rooms, one for us and one for my partner’s mother.
It was probably the somewhat complicated nature of the way we originally placed the reservation that made getting our refund such a mess. Over the course of two months and four separate interactions, we spent upwards of six hours on the phone or in a chat with agents; some credit card people, some ‘points’ people (a lot of folks don’t know that in many instances, the loyalty program isn’t run by the same company with whom you have loyalty).
It was a comedy of errors each time we reached out and tried to reconcile the issue, and the refunds and return of points actually dribbled in over time with some points for one room here, the credit on the card back for the other room there, and so forth. We couldn’t figure out what was so complicated, even given that we were dealing with two different entities, especially considering the cancellation was initiated by them in the first place.
While my partner was frustrated, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed for our industry. (more…)
I’ve previously mentioned the tongue-in-cheek observation that our jobs would all be a lot easier without the Customers, right? (Forget that our jobs would not exist without Customers, of course, but that’s part of the joke.) One reason some of our front-line team members feel that way is because they’re usually trying to help Customers navigate our own internal processes when they need help. Forget that, well, it’s our job to do that, and let’s concentrate on what it means from our Customers’ perspective. The reason it may seem like drudgery at times to hand-hold a Customer as they try to wend their way through our online interface or manage a return event is that we’re so used to it. We know how things work, and from that perspective, it makes the work of explaining it over and over again all day long a bit of a grind. I’m sympathetic, believe me.
But if we walk in our Customers’ shoes we’ll find that our processes aren’t as straightforward or simple as we think they are. After all, that’s why they had to contact us for help in the first place. And frankly, they don’t have the time or inclination to concern themselves with our internal processes. This is the heart of the third of the Five Principles of CX: Take on the Stress. (more…)
In my time as a CX professional, I’ve developed what I call the Five Principles of CX. I’ll go through them over the course of five articles starting here with the first one: Get It Right (GIR). (I posted an introduction to the series here.) Although not universally the case, and it’s not a good idea to limit it just this way, a lot of folks consider CX in terms mostly of Customer support. That is to say, that most of the time when we consider improving CX, we look to how we handle Customer requests when something’s gone wrong.
This is a narrow view, and we should avoid considering CS as the totality of CX. A Customer’s experience begins before he or she even comes into direct contact with our brand—through word of mouth, online reviews, or just the sound the name of our business makes when spoken out loud—let alone has problems with our goods or services. That said, though, Customer support can help us greatly when it comes to improving our CX. (more…)