Don’t tell me you love me

A few years back I was at lunch with a mentor and there was something we needed or wanted that we had to ask for.  The waiter replied somewhat along the lines of:  “Well, we’re not supposed to do that, but I’ll go ahead and do that for you.”

We thanked him, but after he walked away, my mentor turned to me and surprisingly said, “what poor form for him to say that.”  When I asked what he meant—after all, I was glad he’d singled us out for special attention—he explained, “so what, now we’re in his debt?  Like he’s done us a favor?” (more…)

By | 2021-02-25T16:39:46+00:00 February 25th, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Leadership|0 Comments

Chesterton and his gate

One of my favorite Process Engineering tools is the Five Whys.  The basic principle is to consider a problem or imperfection, ask why it’s the way it is, and then ask why that explanation is so.  We keep digging (as the title suggests, five times, but your mileage may vary) until we’ve uncovered the true root cause of an issue.  The idea here is to work toward better understanding what’s behind a problem rather than simply fixing the facial, obvious symptoms.  This aids in efficiency as we’re less prone to waste our time simply swatting at proverbial flies but rather identifying an underlying failure, fixing it, and thereby avoiding further deficiencies.

Now, as with any tool, it can be overused or misapplied.  Some folks will barge into a problem-solving situation, claim to ask “Why?” five times, and call themselves heroes for having broken through the “it’s how we’ve always done it” mentality.  Nice try, but the Five Whys is more than just seeming to be an iconoclast or dynamic thinker.  If you’re only asking “Why” rhetorically or just to be snarky or look like the smartest person in the room, it’s likely you’ll miss the whole point.  The purpose of asking “Why” is actually two-fold:  to search earnestly for the root cause, but also to better understand the systems that are currently in place and, well, why they’re there (the jobs they were intended to accomplish). (more…)

By | 2021-02-22T17:37:25+00:00 February 22nd, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Leadership, Process Engineering|0 Comments

The risks of executive escalations

Executive escalations can be a real life-saver for an organization.  Whether it’s a high-profile Customer or just someone whose experience has gone completely off the rails, sometimes escalating dramatically can truly save the day for CX.  I recently had an experience that was saved by an executive escalation.  I happen to know a Senior Director at a service provider that had recently disrupted its service, potentially causing a serious problem for me.  He’s in CX too, and as a benefit of swimming in these waters, I was able to reach out to him directly and ask for help.  As you’d guess, my issue was handled with great effectiveness and speed.

But that experience got me to wondering:  what if I hadn’t ‘known people’?  When I worked for a corporation in the Customer Support organization, we had an executive escalations team that was top-notch, filled with professional problem-solvers who had all the tools at their disposal with which to address any issue our Customers may have.  They were a well-oiled team, run by one of the best senior managers I’ve seen.  But as with any other organization, there are a few inherent risks with executive escalations and how we handle them. (more…)

By | 2021-02-18T16:12:16+00:00 February 18th, 2021|Categories: CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Leadership, Principles of Good CX|0 Comments

Maybe you are already “doing” CX

“You’re soaking in it.”  Do you remember that commercial for dishwashing soap that was supposed to be so incredibly good for your skin that the lady who’d gone in (to see Madge, remember?) for a manicure was unknowingly enjoying its benefits, thinking she was dipping her fingers into some wonderful skin tonic?  Or have you heard the concept of fish not realizing they’re wet because they’re surrounded by water? (more…)

By | 2021-02-16T16:20:58+00:00 February 16th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Leadership, Process Engineering, VoC|0 Comments

The struggle for feedback

I came across the following article I wrote in an earlier part of my consulting career (I was much thinner then).  Without knowing it at the time, I foreshadowed a lot of reflection that I use now as an executive CX consultant and Fractional CCO.  At the time my practice was mainly focused on training clients and facilitating workshops in Lean Six Sigma and Agile Project Management among other topics…mostly more transactional than the larger and more strategic work I do with clients these days.  Nonetheless, I think it is a microcosm of the concept of seeking and acting on feedback wherever you can.  I use it still as a consultant and encourage my clients to do the same in their own VoC programs.  I’ve lightly edited and updated some parts.  Enjoy. (more…)

By | 2021-02-11T16:27:37+00:00 February 11th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, VoC|0 Comments

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