Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Customer Service Reimagined

Davy Kestens

Chief Executive Officer

When was the last time you looked at your phone? According to Moment, the average American picks up their phone 43 times in a day, and analytics firm Flurry says Americans spend nearly three hours per day on their mobile devices. People are obsessed with their phones and brands know that in order to reach customers they need to step up their mobile game. Most brands offer mobile apps but they are missing one key component. Can you guess what it is?

The (Incomplete) Promise of Mobile Apps

Brands quickly got on the mobile app bandwagon but forgot about mobilizing customer experience. Let’s use an example of a frequent experience. You are shopping in your favorite mobile app- scroll, click, add to cart. Alas, you click on your cart to buy your goods but unfortunately notice that the whole time your cart had not been updating. Help! Now you must reach out to customer service but that is easier said than done. You leave your cart, try to find that button with the three lines that someone decided means “menu”, click Contact Us and…oh. You are met with phone numbers for contact centers ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe, 28 different emails and an option to fax over your complaint. This may be just my opinion (doubt it) but we have passed the days of calling customer service to order items from a catalog received in the mail. Customers are mobile so shouldn’t customer service be mobile too?

There is an obvious pain in the customer service experience within mobile apps. The need to leave the mobile app to contact customer care is a massive disconnect and an irritatingly negative experience. From 2013-2014, mobile usage grew 76% and shows no signs of stopping. But how can brands turn contacting customer experience into a positive and easy experience? The answer is in mobile customer service.

Fitting Mobile Customer Service into the Contact Center

Sure there are in-app messaging solutions that exist today. But none of them have been specifically designed for the enterprise, until now. Our In-App Messaging solution has been weaved into Sparkcentral’s overall workflow that’s already deployed at many large organizations’ contact centers, such as United, Netflix, Uber, Discover and T-Mobile. Being able to message in-app means that when you have that question about your empty cart, you can click Contact Us and “text” your message to a customer care agent on the other side. An agent can respond to you in minutes which I think we can all agree is better than sitting on hold for 45 minutes until we are re-routed to another agent who may or may not be able to solve our problem.

In-App Messaging isn’t just for brands; it’s for customers too. Brands benefit by being able to scale their contact centers, perform at an accelerated rate and delight their customers, which means creating brand advocacy and lifelong customers. Customers on the other hand, continue frequenting your mobile app because of the additional value concierge-level personalized support brings. At Sparkcentral we believe great customer service makes everyone happy–I’m sure there’s a statistic on that somewhere– so, brands and customers alike, I’d like to introduce you to In-App Messaging.

Welcome to the future of Sparkcentral. The future of customer service.

About the author:
As founder and CEO of Sparkcentral, Davy is leading the customer service revolution. In 2012, immediately after founding the company, Davy moved from Belgium to San Francisco. He can get incredibly excited about Startups, enterprise software, and great food.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Delivering More Efficient, Mission-Critical Digital Services

By Victor Janey
Director, Operations
General Dynamics Information Technology

General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) has been partnering with federal agencies continuously since 1983 to deliver mission-critical customer-facing support services. We have partnered with clients to transform the citizen experience to a web-first, mobile-enabled experience that has transformed services from largely paper-based and labor-intensive systems to more efficient, cost-effective electronic and Web-based systems.

GDIT implemented and operates large-scale, multi-channel contact centers that respond to traditional channels but also mobile interactions via Web Chat, SMS, and social engagement from more than 20 million customers annually who have questions about how to apply for, receive, and change Federal assistance and statutory benefits. For one Federal agency, GDIT innovation has built a service environment where more than 99 percent of 25 million federal benefit applications annually are submitted via the Web with built-in skip logic for faster, more accurate results.

Throughout our 30 plus years of partnership with Federal clients, we have consistently delivered contract services within budget while identifying and applying processing efficiencies and enhancements to reduce the government’s operational costs.   And throughout our performance of contract services, we have consistently met all critical annual and interim start-up deadlines for various projects. Each year, all changes driven by legislation and regulation must be fully developed, tested, accepted by clients with full Federal security  requirements in place, and implemented in time for benefits to be available citizens who rely on critical government program. 

An important aspect of service improvement is to keep pace with evolving citizen preferences and their need to communicate across new devices, platforms, and operating systems, in the channel of their choice, when and where they choose to interact.  The overarching mission is to simplify the customer experience to the highest degree possible, breaking down barriers and thereby reducing burden and time for citizen interactions.  A recent example of how GDIT delivered on this commitment for a key client and its customers comes from our delivery for a U.S. government civilian client, where we provide the application that unlocks access to federal funds for defraying the high costs of post-secondary education.   

This application has had a reputation for being complex and is even by some to be a barrier to higher education pursuit.  GDIT ingenuity has helped to take the application from one that took upwards of 45 minutes to complete to one that can be completed and submitted in less than 20 minutes, with results provided to the applicant nearly instantaneously.  The simplified and streamlined online application has enabled more citizens to apply for aid.  There has been a 27 percent increase since the simplification effort began in 2010.  The improved form represents a major change from previous versions.

Highlights of the improved form include:

  • Fewer questions. "Enhanced skip logic" lets students skip questions that don't apply
  • Friendlier navigation. The different sections of the form are marked and color-coded, and screens include an easy-to-find "help and hints" section
  • More information for planning. Citizens who express interest in particular kinds of available benefits now get an instant estimate of aid eligibility
  • Less duplication. The form and application process now links to another federal agency whose data are required, vastly simplifying the process and creating a true “one-stop” experience for citizens relying on this essential federal service
  • This inter-agency collaboration has been called a prime example of different government agencies working together in the interest of citizens.  It has resulted in more applications filed accurately, on time, and with higher levels of customer satisfaction.
There is also increased transparency for citizens as to where they are in the application process, essential for fostering trust in the government and ensuring that citizens follow through and get the aid that they are entitled to receive.  The online, mobile-enabled application is designed to allow customers anytime access to their data, to make necessary changes and edits to their online applications, with clear visibility to their status / point-in-process.  They can also receive electronic rather than paper correspondence, greatly increasing processing turnaround times and reducing costs.  In fact, GDIT worked with the federal agency we serve to build a system whereby citizens who interact electronically are thereafter offered online self-help, tutorials and virtual assistance that follows them through the application as they complete it, escorting their journey to ensure accurate completion.

 "Skip logic," which presents only those sections of the application that are determined applicable based on answers to previous questions, speeds completion of the form. Verification of data and security of private information are also built into the design.  The website that features the application for federal aid also serves as a central online reference site for citizens engaged in the process, including one of the largest deployments of electronic signature functionality in the federal government.

The innovations of this web-first, mobile-enabled design has:

  • Increased on-line versus paper applications from zero to more than 99% since 1997
  • Increased application submission success
  • Reduced printing costs by 90% since 2008
In addition, simplification initiatives mean that applicant data are matched against other, multiple agency databases necessary for the eligibility determination and to ensure accuracy of identifier data for the disbursement of federal funds to qualified applicants.  Citizens also can begin the process with a prior year’s submission to reduce errors and the time to complete the application.

Through the simplification initiative, GDIT reduced the number of web screens on the application from 46 down to 10, cut by 50 percent the number of questions the average applicant must answer, and significantly reduced the overall application completion time. The application streamlining and improvements also enabled a streamlined and more efficient web application technology stack, delivering development cost efficiencies and more flexible feature delivery.

Additional, demonstrable, benefits to citizens and clients brought about by this overall improvement initiative include, at the end of the first year of the deployed simplified online application:

The Elimination of Unnecessary Paper Artifacts
These changes eliminated unnecessary paper notifications in the shift to bolster online help and the use of email communication.  Customers who interact electronically are thereafter presented on-line and mobile help experiences and outputs.

Password / ID Enhancements
Password Challenge Question Lockouts decreased 39%

Increased Electronic Application Signatures / Less Paper Processing

  • Application Signature rejects decreased 69%
  • Electronic Signatures increased by 2.4%
  • Blank Signatures decreased by 55%
  • Total Paper signatures decreased by 27%
  • Encouraging Online Help
  • Calls Offered decreased 45%
  • Chats Offered decreased 68%
  • Emails decreased 31%
Eliminate Unnecessary Paper Artifacts
  • Since the changes were implemented, roughly 4.9 million fewer paper notifications were sent, compared to prior year
  • 4.9 million * 40 cents for postage = $1,960,000 in savings
In the words of just one of the hundreds of thousands of citizens who have already completed the new online and simplified application process, Janice from Oklahoma said “The process is so easy! It took my daughter and me only a few minutes to complete and it was much easier than before. With so much to worry about it’s good to know that you are all making sure this part of the process isn’t one of them. This was really great!”

Victor Janey is an Operations Director with more than 20 years of experience managing large-scale, high-volume, multi-channel contact center operations in virtual delivery environments. He is an evangelist for best-in-business customer service delivery models, and a key contributor in developing and communicating best service principles and guidelines.

Before becoming Director of Operations at General Dynamic Information Technology, he was an Operations Director at Vangent, Inc., a Program Manager at Pearson Government Solutions and Deputy Program Manager at NCS.

Customer Experience Challenges for Large Organizations


By Burges Karkaria
Chief Technical Officer, Customer Experience


The statement ‘The bigger you are, the harder you fall’ (or fail in this case) is very applicable while talking about “Customer Experience” challenges faced by large corporations. Big corporations understand the value of providing superior Customer Experience very well. They also have immense resources at their disposal to tackle the problem. Yet somehow they find immense hurdles in nailing the customer experience challenge.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience is several different things, but simply put, encompasses every interaction your customer has with your company. This could involve a retail shopping experience and the lines at the Point of Sale, or calling the help desk or trying to find some information about your products online. I will however focus on the digital experience portion in this article. The digital experience the customer has with your company spans many digital assets. Some assets are owned by you while some assets are not (think of review sites, or search engines or online stores selling your products). It also spans all parts of the customer journey. Right from researching products (both your and competitors’ products), to going through the inquiry and purchase cycles to actually using your products and dealing with any issues while doing so. For large corporations the “customer” could be a complex labyrinth of B2B customers, B2C customers, partners etc.

Why is Unified Customer Experience Important?

Well for starters, Digital Experience is the brand! Let’s say you are selling a wearable and your site is slow or complicated, customers will associate that with you and your products. They start thinking your wearable itself will maybe slow or complicated and may instead choose a competitor’s product. First impressions are the most lasting sometimes and the first interaction that the customer has with your company is generally before they have ever touched your product.

Customer Experience further needs to have a unified feel. Whether customers are researching or buying or looking for help your digital experience needs to be contiguous, consistent and familiar. Kim Kopetz, Director of Customer Experience Office at Intel, calls out the importance of Customer Experience via two vantage points. “From the company perspective, a unified customer experience is important so that we can better understand a customer’s end-to-end journey, and use that data to optimize engagement strategies and execution plans.  From the customer perspective, a unified experience provides a seamless, integrated, and ideally intuitive way to interact with a company that fulfills individual needs and desires.”

Why is Unifying Customer Experience so Hard- Especially for Big Companies?

Any big company starts off with a smorgasbord of customers as mentioned above. The requirements and needs of different segments are different. More importantly, the internal factors make the vision of a world class customer experience even harder. Most companies have different people responsible for different parts of the business, who touch customers at different points in their journey. The engineering teams expose the technical documentation, the marketing teams handle the marketing messaging, the sales teams handle the e-Commerce and order management, and customer support teams provide technical support.

Further systems used for these are based off of multiple vendor offerings each having a separate customer experience, out of box. For example the communities or service cloud experience offered by SalesForce (out of box) will be completely different compared to say the e-Commerce experience offered by IBM Websphere Commerce engine and so on. Changing the “skin” to rebrand and normalize is not trivial or cheap. Add to that the multitude of legacy systems, custom home grown systems etc. and the fact that the solution stack keeps morphing over the years and you have an interesting Frankenstein-ish setup as far as your customers are concerned. Trying to align funding models to change these systems in lock step is a huge challenge in itself.

Again, Kim summarizes this very well: “Unifying a customer experience is hard because organizations are often designed and optimized around functional silos, such as sales, marketing, support.  Getting siloed groups to align to a common “outside-in” perspective and understanding baton passes between groups is difficult, not to mention the challenge of comprehending the required integration of customer-facing systems, processes and communications.”

Strategies to Help Unify Customer Experience

Large Companies have finally started to recognize and address this problem with more vigor than ever. Following are some key considerations:

  1. The first step is to acknowledge the problem and establish a central Customer Experience office that is empowered to guide a unified customer experience across the silos.
  2. Next is identifying the clear areas where improving customer experience has direct ROI benefits. For example, simplifying the digital support that’s integrated with the order history, reduces support calls, resulting in huge savings. Or, integrating order history with technical documentation may provide ease of product use while helping cross sell opportunities. These then need to be comprehended as a collective roadmap impacting multiple siloed systems that change in tandem. 
  3. Key vendors need to be brought together in partnership with your company to help shape their offerings to work well with each other.
In summary “Customer at the center” needs to move from rhetoric to practical implementation with Unified Customer Experience being thought of as a core differentiator for your brand.
Burges Karkaria is the Chief Technical Officer for Customer Experience at Intel. You can follow him on @IntelMktCTO or @BurgesKarkaria on twitter. The views expressed by the author are his own and don’t represent any official company views.

Intel, IBM and Salesforce are registered trademarks and reference to their products are just used as an illustrative example. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

EXECUTIVE INSIGHT: From Customer Agent to Customer Advocate

An Interview with Robert Gofourth

By Patricia Stamas-Jacoby

Robert Gofourth, Vice President, Operational Strategy and Performance, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, will be leading a session entitled EXECUTIVE INSIGHT – From Customer Agent, to Customer Advocate at Customer Contact 2015, West: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange.

In anticipation of the event, Rob Gofourth shared his insights and expertise as we posed the following questions about the latest innovations and best practices in the Customer Service arena:

How did your current customer service initiative—your service quality program—begin?  

We had a typical “check list” quality program.  Upon thinking about natural interaction, a check list simply doesn’t make sense.  The fact is our quality program was netting average scores in the high 90’s but First Call Resolution (FCR) was struggling. 

What made you decide to implement this program? 

We partnered with the Corporate Executive Board and examined a competency based quality program.  We ran a pilot with the competency based form and had a significant improvement in FCR. 

Can you share some of the process around creating this program? 

We selected 6 competencies and redesigned the form.  We then ran a pilot among like teams with like calls.  We did a post call survey.  We saw an increase in satisfaction as well as improvement in FCR.

At Customer Contact West, you will speak about turning customer service agents into customer advocates through a competency based approach. Can you expound on this? 

By switching our approach from a perceived check list to a competency based program, we move to a more natural interaction.  In addition to that, we added some minor but powerful empowerment tools like the ability to send out a congratulations or sympathy card.

Can you share some of the lessons learned and successes you’ve had with a competency approach? 

In retrospect, we should have taken a more simplistic approach to the competencies.  For instance, one of the competencies is Resilience.  We found that some of our agents had a difficult time with some of the descriptors and even definitions.  We recommend   keeping it simple.  We have had great success with agents who are “good” agents but under the old program, they could not be “themselves” and struggled.  The competency based program lets someone be themselves. 

As we all know, today’s customer is increasingly attached to their mobile device. How does mobility fit into the customer service picture at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina?

Mobility is extremely important to us and is a key part of our marketing and service roadmaps. 

Do you offer any “mobile-first” Customer Service options? 

We do offer mobile options to our customers as part of their member benefits.  This primarily focuses on services from their medical providers and wellness options. 

I recently read that most new Customer Service initiatives are not profitable. Has this been your experience in general? Has the Blue Cross quality program been profitable? 

From a profitability perspective, there are a number of inputs into the profitability of a health insurance member.  However, we have been able to anecdotally measure the leading positive impact which helps form value based decisions on offerings. 

How about retention rates? 

We have seen service quality as a differentiating element in retention in the traditional products offered.

Rob Gofourth is a multi-faceted Customer Experience and Operations professional who has provided Process Improvement expertise as Vice President of Professional Services at Insite Managed Solutions, led Enterprise Risk Management and Operations at Citizens Property Insurance and worked as an Internal Consultant at Sitel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Importance of Creating Passionate Customer Advocates

By Rhonda Basler
Director, Customer Engagement
Hallmark Business Connections

Companies often struggle to attain perfection in order to win in the marketplace. We aim for flawless execution and high-quality products, but perfection is typically reserved for snowflakes and warm, sunny spring days. Although businesses consistently try to hit the mark, perfection is not always feasible. To win in the marketplace, we must first focus on winning with our customers by creating standout experiences.

What does it take for your business to create truly remarkable experiences for your customers? It’s all about investing in the right areas. At Hallmark, we believe it starts by asking three simple yet specific questions, followed by careful consideration of each answer.

The first step to creating standout customer experiences is understanding the definitions of each of these three M’s: meaningful, memorable and measurable. 

Does It Impact the Customer in a Direct and Personal Way That Is Meaningful to Them Specifically?

Meaningful experiences go well beyond the transaction to touch your customer on an emotional level. This kind of experience makes them feel good about their interaction with your company and the exchange they’ve had with the people who represent the business.

Is the Experience Meaningful Enough To Be Memorable? 

Just because an experience is meaningful, doesn’t mean it will stand out in your customer’s mind. You need to determine if the customer will remember the experience a day, a week or a month later. Why is this so important? Only memorable experiences impact customer loyalty and retention. Think about it in these terms: If they don’t even remember the experience, it cannot impact how they feel about your company.

Can You Gauge the Effectiveness of the Experience in Measurable Ways?

We all have limits on our customer engagement budgets, so we must be able to prove the value of our investments. For years, businesses have used key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how loyal, engaged and passionate their customers are about their companies. These metrics help us evaluate the equity your brand carries with customers, the loyalty of those same individuals, and the likelihood they will refer a friend or buy again. These metrics are critical to your success in creating positive experiences, time and time again. Quantitative measurements include things like customer retention rates and revenue increases, while qualitative analysis examines the voice of the customer and asks open-ended questions to derive value. The important part to remember is that all insights must be actionable, insightful and sharable.

Genuine Connections Create Customers Who Buy More, Spend More and Stay Longer

Companies depend on repeat business from customers. When your business focuses on creating these experiences again and again, you’ll find your customers will return for your top-notch care. This care turns customers into advocates who not only believe in your products, services and brands, but who also share their positive feelings and remarkable experiences with others, including friends, family and their social media networks.

Think about your favorite company. We all have a few. Why? According to the AMEX 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer, 75 percent of customers say they’ve spent more at a company where they’ve had positive customer service encounters. What is the common factor that links each of these customer service encounters that bring people back again and again? Simple. They were memorable. 

Where Do You Go From Here?

Three M experiences turn bad situations around and make good interactions great. Start by considering where you want to be versus where you are today. Next time you interact with a customer, actively think through about the three M’s. When you do this every day,  word gets out. Soon, you’ll be the company with passionate customer advocates.

Rhonda Basler leads the customer engagement segment at Hallmark Business Connections. An avid business trend watcher and strategic thinker, her customer advocacy expertise stems from over 15 years experience in data-driven brand marketing. Rhonda started her career working in both inbound and outbound customer service contact centers.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Top 10 Take-Aways from Customer Contact Europe 2015: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange

For executives working in today’s multi-faceted, multi-channel customer contact space, asking key questions is an important part of getting to the right solutions.

Here are some of the key take-aways and talking points our participants shared at the 9th Annual Customer Contact 2015, Europe: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange

  1. Use results to connect your customer to the "right" channel. As different customer service channels affect online purchasing decisions, it’s important to analyze the data to create a blueprint for optimal channel success.
  2. Customer experience needs "board" sponsorship. Is your entire organization--from the Board on down—linked together to provide an excellent customer experience at every touchpoint?
  3. How do you choose and monitor the right KPI? Is net revenue or a customer loyalty metric the best key performance metric for your organization?
  4. How do you ease the customer journey? How do you make it simple? The “customer journey” continues to grow more complex… so how do we make it easier for our customers to gather information or to make a purchase?
  5. Monitor employee NPS/EPS It is important to compete for your customers and not against competitors.
  6. Empower your employees to boost customer experience.  Each and every employee should be authorized to create a successful customer experience.
  7. Create a multi-channel customer focus. Don’t forget post-purchase. It may just improve profits!
  8. Forget about B2B & B2C - Online sales models have changed the game forever.
  9. Read Dr. Philip Klaus' book, Measuring Customer Experience: How to Develop and Execute the Most Profitable Customer Experience Strategies The award-winning researcher can help you take abstract concepts like customer experience and convert them into tools you can use to improve performance and results.
  10. Only 2 out of 10 Customer Experience (CX) initiatives are profitable. So, there is much room for improvement. Marrying your customers’ needs with analytics can help.

Why not use the key conversation starters noted above to drive those important customer experience discussions at your organization? Leverage these ideas to help your organization provide an optimal and profitable customer experience.

Remember this equation: Employees = Customers

By Mark Edelman

Vice President, Digital Member Services
Stanford Federal Credit Union

This is not a math puzzle, but rather the way we need to approach our business if we are to be successful.  Simply stated; you must consider your employees at least as much as you consider your customers.  To remain relevant, we must respond to our customers’ needs in a manner that the customers perceive as timely and valuable.  The market demands you develop a premier customer support system with quality employees and you’ll grow your customer base.  Competition is competing on product, price and delivery.  The companies beating the competition are doing it with service.

When we respond to our customers’ needs the way the customers want, typically with quick resolution to their requests, we gain promoters.  Promoters will share online and offline – family, friends, virtual friends, co-workers, classmates, and your list of future customers go on!   To make this happen, we must start by creating a working environment where our employees can succeed and thrive.

Here are some keys to balancing the equation:

  • Have a clear strategy and clearly communicate that strategy to your employees and your customers.
  • Customer support systems for employees and customer facing systems must be intuitive, easy to use, and provide pertinent data.
  • Remember your customers and their preferences. Provide this data to your employees at the beginning of each interaction.
  • Always look for ways to hear your customer’s voice.  Make sure you hear what your employees have to say about the customer experience.
  • Customers expect knowledgeable employees who have the authority to make decisions. 
  • Train your employees with the tools to make good decisions.  Follow-up the training by giving the employees the authority for those decisions.
  • Have one service level for all customer interactions; customers do not want to wait and employees will take the brunt of the customers’ frustration if the customers’ wait is too long.
We succeed with our customers through our employees…Not in spite of them! Your success starts by developing your employees and providing an environment where the employees can succeed.  Leverage technology to enhance the experience for your customers and increase the efficiency of your employees.  Technology without a sound service approach will be both expensive and ineffective.  The great companies figure this out.

Mr. Edelman has over 20 years of contact center and operations management experience in the financial services sector.  He has a passion for customer service and has a stellar track record with start-up operations and turning around poor performing service operations.  Recently, he has been a featured speaker at numerous call center conferences and has handled consulting assignments to assess and improve credit union contact centers.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from California Pacific University.

Reflections from The Chair of Customer Contact 2015, Europe: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange

Reflections from The Chair:  “Obsessed with Tools, Toys and Technology!”

By Derek Williams

Chief Executive, The WOW! Awards
International Speaker and Author

Regular Frost & Sullivan Event Contributor

Derek Williams chaired Customer Contact 2015, Europe: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. Read on as he reflects on the event and Big Data, (or is it just data?) outsourcing the customer experience, (why?) customer perceptions, (the reality?) the millennials (who will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025) and more…

Friends and newcomers.  It’s always great to meet old friends at a Frost and Sullivan event.  And so refreshing to also meet the virgins; some of them not quite sure what to expect and maybe a little daunted by a packed schedule.

The schedule does appear daunting.  But everyone quickly gets into the swing of things and begins to realise that their time with Frost & Sullivan is going to be a fantastic investment.  Every part of the three days is carefully thought through and structured to maximise learning, networking and friendships.

“Obsessed with tools, toys and technology!”  Dr Phil Klaus explained how CEO’s see the functions of marketing and operations.  “You don’t speak in the language of the board!”  There is a challenge to understand our external customers and our internal customers so much better.

But marketing and ops are not totally to blame.  80% of CEOs say that their companies give a great customer experience.  Only 8% of customers say that they receive a great customer experience!  Spot the gap?

There is no Big Data!  Just data.  Trouble is that we are measuring the wrong things and don’t practice what we preach.  Touch point management does not match customer expectations. 

Why do we outsource customer experience?  Outsourcing increases probability of churn and negative word of mouth by up to 5 times.

Blame the Finance Directors.  Chris Brindley, Managing director at Metro Bank, accuses them of knowing everything about price but nothing about value.  As a former FD can I just add in my defence, if all you ever ask your FD to do is count beans then all they will ever do is count beans.  So my message to everyone here is bring your Finance Directors with you next time.  Let them see the technology, the systems and the best practices in the world so that they can make better investments.

Customer perceptions are reality.  Listen to your customers.  Perhaps what surprised me most is that so many senior managers are not listening to their customers.  Customer forums with senior management present are nothing new; are we really still thinking about it???

Understand that your people are your only differentiator.  Metro Bank use technology to do “the heavy lifting” so that their people can make the difference.

Are you B2B or B2C?  Don’t even think about it.  All businesses are People to People.  And if you don’t have a Director of Customer Experience then your customers don’t have a voice at board level.

We do stupid things!  Pens attached to the counter with a chain.  Car parks “FOR BANK STAFF ONLY”.  Do you have a Stupid Rules Policy; a systematic way of getting rid of stupid rules?

Did your customers ask for their calls to be answered by machine?  Think about your investment in marketing and communications.  Yet your ability to win business hinges on being able to answer the phone.  It’s not about how much you invest it’s about how you risk that investment.

It takes two people to say, “NO!” to a customer.  But only one person to say, “Yes!” at Metro Bank.

Is man challenging machine?  Stephen Loynd tells us that Toyota is replacing robots with people and productivity is increasing.

The millennials are coming.  75% of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025.  Employees of the future need to feel that their work is valued.  “They don’t want to climb a corporate ladder.  They want to play in a jungle gym!”

Tearing down the silos!  Fabien Pelous is creating a one stop shop at Air France – KLM by focusing on customer segments.  Will this only ever extend to Platinum customers?  We look forward to an update next year.  Customers only ever see one organisation and don’t understand silos.

“My problem is your challenge!”  Don’t blame marketing or HR says Jan Smets.  Life in unfair!  Remember that the contact centre attracts moments of truth.  It’s all about making the connection and bringing relief.  Service is what people buy.  Customer service is the complete experience including the human element.

Give your business two hearts.  One for workforce and operational excellence.  One for data analysis.  Test everything using the data and don’t be distracted by “Senior Management Opinion Syndrome – everyone is entitled to my opinion!”

Word of mouth might be your greatest opportunity.  Post purchase customer experience only produces 24% of revenues but 45% of profits.

Why don’t we ask “WHY?”  When we measure customer experience we typically ask what, how and when.  But we don’t ask, “Why do they buy?” and, “Why do they buy from us?”

E.ON are making it as easy as ABC.  Alignment; help customers get what they want.  Benevolence; be a force for good.  Competence; be able to deliver what you promise.

Do we measure the right things?  Too many organisations might be measuring and rewarding the wrong things.  Good to see daily Net Promoter Scores being use at the frontline in Europcar and contributing to both positive and negative bonuses at management level. Probably not enough measurement of Customer Effort Scores for my liking.  Making it easy has to be a focus for both external and internal customers.

Working smarter was the theme of Paul van den Berg’s presentation.  Using real agents, Plantronics attitude is… “We don’t want to distract our customers from distracting the enterprise.  We want to accelerate to engage with customers!”

Catching people doing things right!  Maybe not.  Most organisations still seem to be focused on catching people doing things wrong.  More celebration needed.  It doesn’t have to be big but it does need to be sincere and personal.  Ties very nicely into what we understand about the millennials wanting to feel valued.

“We’re sorry,” said Kenny Jacobs from Ryanair.  “We’ve not been listening to our customers enough.  We started to realise that we had a problem when we had lower passenger occupancy than other airlines despite being the cheapest.”  Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” programme looks set to make Ryanair the world’s biggest airline.  “Applying much better service to the cheapest service becomes an unbeatable proposition!”

The Ryanair story is another illustration of customers wanting to be smarter in their spending.  Aldi, Primark, Hyundai and Ryanair are the fastest growing brands in the UK. 

Listen to your customers.  Know your place in the market.  Measure and reward the right things.  Engage your people.  Differentiate your service.  Use technology appropriately.  Be prepared to change.  Great learning and great networking with Frost & Sullivan.

Derek Williams is Chief Executive of The WOW! Awards.  He is an international speaker, author and regular contributor to Frost & Sullivan events.

For more information about The WOW! Awards and “Catching people doing things right!” call Derek on +44 (0) 1438 310191 or
email Derek@TheWowAwards.co.uk

From Customer Agent, to Customer Advocate

By Cippy Seidler

Call Center Director
Banner Health

In this session highlight from the 11th Annual Customer Contact 2015, East: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, Cippy Seidler, Director, Contact Centers, Banner Health, shares the philosophy and practical takeaways that guided her organization to an 8% turnover rate in 2014.

Staff comes in at entry level – we need to train! What do they want? What do they want to do? Do they have the skill sets we need? Do they have the professional experience? – for example, do they know how to act in a meeting? How to make eye contact, use open / inviting body language, ask questions, show engagement and respect the meeting leader?

This training is really about skills that they can take with them anywhere they go. This is for them PERSONALLY. This isn’t related to their actual work, it’s about tools they need to be successful in other areas of the company or even at other companies.

“As director of the call centers, I am almost a recruiter.” We take the people in, train them, get them excited, they become advocates by telling others about their cool job and how much fun they have there – we want them to tell their like-minded, like-personality friends about it.

What is the effect of your non-job related training?

Audience answers included:

Recognition for top performers – they go to the different office with a mountain view, to see the product manager so they can see what they’re really pushing. They are treated like ROCKSTARS there and it gives them confidence. They are told to go with a voice. It exposes them to different folks, jobs, etc.

  • Emerging Leader Program – In house leadership training in consideration for management roles. There are certain requirements but it motivates them, this is for THEM. They are spotlighted, have opportunities to interact with other leaders in organization and have additional opportunities such as attending classes etc….
  • Internal cross training opportunities: Staff can get entry level experience working in a different area within the call center.  An area of interest for them but also to gain experience
  • Know your Agent –What are their strengths? What do they want to do? Then we give them those tasks. Want to be an event planner? Plan a department event.. Like interior design? Decorate the office. If they want to do these things though, they need to be hitting a certain work performance criteria.  So it pushes them to do well so they can do what they want

  • Career mapping
  • “Coaches” vs Supervisors
Why do call center routinely have 50 – 60% turnover? Why isn’t this working? Is this what the employee wanted? Did we ask them?
  • What is something that they really want to do? The presenter gave an example of someone who she really wanted to make a “coach” but the lady was hesitant. Then, she was asked what she really wanted. She said CPR training. Cippy said okay fine – do it and this made the employee very happy. It’s not really related but because they gave her the opportunity, the retention of the employee was so much higher because she LIKED the company. The employee now has added responsibility because of her skill set in the office. Opportunity for growth, recognition and then she tells other people about it.
  • What does it cost to replace a call center agent? Weight that against what it costs to give her two 8 hour shifts to go to CPR training? Partially engaged employee became 100% engaged employee.
  • “I just saved us 30 thousand dollars today. Nobody quit today!”
  • One of the audience members offered this input about their own company: Every employee in the company, every agent, is allowed to have a stake in policy and process making – by the end of the year there will be no managers in the company at all. It’ll be full democracy. They can go to and have a seat at any meeting.
Ask yourselves: What’s in it for them? Does it make their job easier?

People want to feel like what they do is meaningful and matters. Imagine what would happen if we closed our doors (call centers) for 1 day. You need to make it so that their job is so meaningful that the company literally cannot go on without them.

Moving staff from agent to ambassador.  Ambassador is more of a role model --someone who welcomes new people etc…  Advocate is someone who truly believes in your company’s mission, strategic initiatives, etc.


An employee road map is what the agents can expect from their leader– 30 days, 60, 90, 1 year. RATHER THAN their road map of what they’re expected to wear, what they’re expected to do, etc. Customer agents are met with once a month in a one-on-one to make sure this is happening, let them know they have someone to talk to if customers aren’t always nice, etc.

It’s key to your team that you take calls every now and then so your team knows you are not removed.

Real proof – in 2014, Banner Health’s turnover rate was lowest in 10 years.

EXIT QUESTION: If your BEST employee told you they were leaving today? What would they say as their reason to leave?

Audience input - Even if you aren’t offered a promotion while someone else is (internally or not) –you will receive a in-perosn meeting explaining that in your interview we saw these strengths, here is how we think you can work on those. And, do you have an idea of how you want to work on those? Instead of leaving, there are little ways we can recognize an employee’s strengths and make them want to stay.

Cippy Seidler is an enthusiastic leader focused on providing a high-level customer experience through employee engagement and a commitment to excellence.  In the span of 28 years, Cippy has served in leadership positions with retail organizations such as Liz Claiborne, Allen-Edmonds, and Zayre with a specialized focus on front-end customer engagement and retention, and employee training and sales development. Currently a Director of Call Centers with Banner Health, one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country, she is responsible for driving performance across multiple service lines. 

Philly311 – A Journey to Creating a Connected City

By Rosetta Carrington Lue
Chief Customer Service Officer
and Executive Director

Philly311 Contact Center
City of Philadelphia

It Started with a Simple Idea

In 2008, Mayor Michael A. Nutter came to me with the idea for Philly311. The goal was to make city government more effective and transparent by creating a contact center that could manage all of the citizens’ requests. The system would improve efficiency by submitting the requests directly to the appropriate department in the proper format. He had a simple requirement – he wanted all calls to be answered by the third ring. That was his standard for service in 2008, but since then we have accomplished so much more. We have more than a 90% customer satisfaction rating. The contact center is available on many channels; including a mobile app that is one of the few 311 apps in the country, and our award winning social media services.

Anytime a service is being provided, the person receiving that service is a customer of the provider, even in the public sector. This article explains how Philadelphia became a more connected city by focusing on our customers, getting our staff to believe in our mission, and changing the culture of government to be more accessible, responsive, and adaptable.

Treat Citizens like Customers

This customer-centric model is still relatively new to government. We have taken a traditionally private sector ideology and applied it to the public sector. Using the private sector as an example, we re-evaluated local government’s relationship between citizens, visitors, and business owners. With this new perspective, citizens, visitors, and business owners are the City of Philadelphia’s customers, and their customer experience becomes a priority. The City of Philadelphia wants all of its customers to be satisfied and to continue to live, work, and play in our City. By incorporating new ideas and values into our process, we are reinvigorating city government in Philadelphia. We are creating a culture that focuses on our customers and that operates with integrity and responsiveness.

Get the Staff Invested

At Philly311, ensuring that employees are fully invested in our mission is key to building a customer-centric culture. We wanted to make sure that all of our employees and city departments understood the reason for and value of being a service oriented organization. This took time, planning, and consistent follow through. As a result of our efforts, we now have an amazing team of highly motivated individuals. When your agents believe in the work they are doing and understand our ultimate common goals, they can work more independently, and will strive to achieve the best results possible without being micro-managed. A staff that is inspired by what they do will always produce better results than a staff that is worried about consequences or meeting the bottom line.

Transform the Culture of Government

Philly311 is a vehicle to establish a standard of customer service for all of city government. Our customers are at the center of our day to day operations. Additionally, we are creating a new mentality of customer service in city government. Philadelphia takes an innovative approach to connecting the community to the City with dynamic communication models, and citywide initiatives. We offer resources and workshops to train city employees on how to deliver outstanding service. We help other departments set measurable outcomes, performance metrics, and share best customer service practices about how to meet their goals. We understand that any interaction a customer has with a city department or agency can impact the way they view city government overall.

Be Available at the Customer’s Convenience

For example, we have multiple channels to engage our customer. We want our customers to reach us on a platform that is comfortable and easily accessible. Anyone can submit requests through our call center, walk-in center, mobile application, social media platforms, self-service web portal, or email. Our mobile app and website are operational 24/7, the call center is active from 8am-8pm, and walk-in services are available from 9am-5pm. Our mobile application comes in 17 different languages to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard, and to honor the incredible diversity of Philadelphia.

Be Responsive and Adaptable

We listen to our customers’ concerns, observing trends in request type and location, and obtaining meaningful user feedback by monitoring social media, reviewing reports to analyze data, and taking customer surveys. With these tools, we are able to adapt our system and our services to meet the customers’ needs. We want citizens to feel like government is really working for them. We aim to empower citizens to make a difference in their communities by giving them a direct line of communication to their government. We are increasing accountability and internal communication as well.

Be a Leader; Set an Example

More local government officials are coming to understand how a 311 system can improve the relationship between citizens and their government. Philadelphia is a national model because of our innovative strategies, successful growth, and high customer satisfaction. Putting our customers first revolutionizes the way that the City delivers important services that affect the quality of life. We hope that other cities can learn from, implement, and expound on the work we have done in Philadelphia to create a connected city.

Rosetta Lue has over 15 years of hands-on experience in business operations and senior leadership in both the public and private sectors. She is recognized as an expert in customer experience management across diverse industries in both the private and public sectors, including domestic and international markets. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Top Ten Trends at the 11th Annual Customer Contact 2015, East: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange

By Brooke Thorpe
Event Producer
Frost & Sullivan

Here are the top takeaways and dynamic customer-centric strategies discussed at Customer Contact 2015 East. If you didn’t attend this exciting event (and even if you did) you’ll want to review and leverage these wide-ranging and inspiring trends and ideas in your own organization or use them as guidelines to develop your own implementable action plan now that the event is over.

  1. The Millennial generation and their influence as employees in the contact center
  2. New trends in Social Media and their influence in contact center operations
  3. Innovation in contact center agent training methods
  4. Leadership, team work and maintaining a positive work environment
  5. New trends in data mining and the importance of using data effectively 
  6. Using digital technology and multi-channel applications to improve the customer experience
  7. Fine-tuning strategy and new strategic insights of the customer contact industry
  8. The importance of company culture and its impact on operations performance
  9. Innovative ways of creating and increasing revenue through the contact center
  10. Aligning efforts across the company with the contact center to strategically achieve goal
Did you attend the event? Have a takeaway of your own you’d like to share? Have a great content idea for future programs? Email Brooke.Thorpe@frost.com with your feedback

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Customer Contact 2015 Europe: Webinar Recap

By Lindsey Walker
Integrated Marketing Solutions Coordinator
Frost & Sullivan

On March 18, 2015, Frost & Sullivan’s Michael DeSalles , Principal Analyst, Customer Contact, led an engaging panel discussion titled: Next Generation Customer Care: 10 Strategies in 20 Minutes. Michael was joined by Derek Williams, Chief Executive Officer of the WOW! Awards, and Dr. Phil Klaus, a leading customer experience expert and keynote speaker.  Both presenters delivered insights on how to truly focus on the customer experience. Below, are each speaker’s biggest takeaways from the webinar.

1.    Focus on the journey of your employees

Williams’ main point was the importance of focusing on employee recognition. He referenced a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte, “I can get my men to die for a ribbon, but I cannot get them to die for money.” Creating a supportive employee environment, with an actively involved leadership program, is one of Williams’ critical recommendations for supporting employees. He quoted a Gallup study that said, “a 5% Improvement to employee engagement, can add a 2% increase in sales.” This statistic gives empirical evidence of the importance employee recognition. Derek also mentioned how recognition shouldn’t be attached to reward, for it to be a successful motivator. “Good” recognition, involves a compliment that is genuine, that will motivate an employee to excel. All of these save money by reducing “employee attrition and absence.” Most organizations find this a daunting task, but once the benefits are realized, it’s important to keep the recognition program going.

2.    Explore the importance of the Customer Experience (CX) in your business

 Klaus’s insight provided another outlook on focusing on the customer experience, and capturing the true behaviors of the customer. He led with the statement that “8 out of 10 customer experience strategies are not even profitable.”  While customer experience is here to stay, sometimes gaining the support of stakeholders is a challenge. Klaus says “the business case can only be made if you make the case in terms of business, showing an ROI.” The impact of the strategy must be shown, in terms of spending and return. It’s important to learn about which process are working, and speak the language of the board you are pitching to. When asked if there are any “must-haves” in terms of processes that facilitate the customer experience programs, Klaus responded that learning about customer behavior as opposed to their intentions, is the most important measurement.

Visit www.frost.com/ccsweb  to hear more of Phil and Derek’s dynamic customer-centric strategies, in addition to their answers from the audience question and answer session!  Additionally, you can gain real world insight and experience by meeting the presenters in person at the 9th Annual Customer Contact 2015, Europe: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange on June 8-10, 2015 in Scandic Copenhagen, Denmark. Visit www.frost.com/cce for more information and for instructions on registering for the event.

Leadership, Customer Service and the Bottom Line – Is There a Link?

By Derek Williams
Author and Creator of The WOW Awards
The WOW! Group

It’s your first day in a new job.

This is the job that you really wanted.  The one that you saw advertised and immediately knew was for you.  The one that you spent hours crafting an application letter for.  The one that required you to beat all the other applicants at interview.  The one where you anxiously awaited the postman or an email to see if you’d been successful.

New suit.  Clean shirt and your favourite tie.  Shoes freshly polished.  Hair cut just right.

You’re keen.  You arrive early.  You greet each new person with a warm smile.  Trying hard to build rapport without seeming to be over confident.  You go out of your way for customers.  There’s a spring in your step and a friendly ring to your voice.

Now look around.  No matter what job you’re in and no matter how long you’ve been there.  Does everyone around you have the energy and enthusiasm of new starters?  Or has their energy and enthusiasm dwindled?  Are they still there because they love what they do or are they simply there because they haven’t been able to escape yet?

Is there a link between leadership, customer service and business success?  Absolutely!  Research by the Strategic Planning Institute found that businesses which gave good service grew twice as fast as those with poor service.  And, in all my years of researching customer service, I’ve yet to find a business with weak leadership giving great service.

So what are the qualities that I’ve observed?

Leaders need to have a vision of what they want to achieve.  How will anyone ever sign up to a cause if there is no cause to sign up to?

The vision needs to be communicated.  Let everyone share in it.  Let them see what is in it for them by becoming a follower.

Great leaders have passion.  The strength and the energy to work against the odds to achieve their vision.

Great leaders delegate and empower.  That doesn’t mean that they simply dump on their people.  But they create structure, they allocate responsibility, they help to create systems, they provide support and training and resources.  And they empower their people to make decisions.  This is part of what makes people feel significant.

There’s respect.  Great leaders sometimes have to take tough decisions but there’s always respect for their people.  They treat their employees as customers – internal customers. 

More communication.  How are we doing?  What are we doing?  What new is happening?  Successful business leaders are masters at keeping their people informed.  Notice boards are up to date and informative.  Key performance indicators are understood and displayed.  Targets are set and success is celebrated.  This is how leaders create a sense of community.

People are motivated to do what’s important.  If you believe that customer service is important to your business what are you doing to motivate your people to deliver great service?  Bonuses based purely on profits are not the answer.  In fact, monetary rewards for work that requires more than basic cognitive thought may be counter-productive.  One of the key drivers of great employee engagement is simple recognition.

Great leaders stick to principles.  One of my favourite organisations is Pret A Manger; I love the service they give their customers.  I wrote to their Chief Executive, Julian Metcalfe, and asked if I could spend time in his business researching what they do and how they do it.  I promised that I was only looking to report a positive view and that Julian would have the final say on anything that I wanted to publish.

The next day, Julian called me up to thank me for my interest but explained that he would decline my offer.  He went on to explain that he is incredibly proud of his people and what they achieve but he could not collaborate on any project that might be seen to praise his business.  Julian told me of an old Chinese proverb – “The higher that the monkey climbs the tree the more that you can see of it’s backside”.  I understood what he meant and admired his principle.

Great leaders walk the walk and talk the talk.

There’s a famous story about a group of visitors to Disney.  They were walking in the Magic Kingdom when they saw a grey haired man walk out of his way to pick up a piece of litter.  One of the group approached the man and asked, “How many custodians are there here?”  The man replied, “45,000”.  The guest was surprised at so many.

The next day the group attended a Traditions meeting and the same grey haired man was there.  His name was Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO of Disney.

And great leaders keep the energy going. 

I have been fortunate enough to spend some time at Richer Sounds.  Richer Sounds is a hi-fi store that has been in the Guinness Book of Records for many years for the highest retail sales per square foot of any retail business anywhere in the world.

Throughout my day at Richer Sounds, members of the Team were regularly checking their performance against target.  They kept reminding each other about hitting target and getting together for a drink at the end of the week.  There was a buzz and the Team was loving it.

How would I sum up leadership in one sentence?  It’s simply creating a Team of people with the skills and experience of older employees but the energy and enthusiasm of new employees.  If you’re the boss, does this describe the people who work in your business?

Derek Williams is an author and international speaker on customer service and employee engagement.  He is Chief Executive of The WOW! Awards; a process that allows customers to catch people doing things right.  This highly motivational process is now being used by organisations as diverse as Durham Constabulary, Jones Lang LaSalle, United Utilities, Which? and Citizens Advice – all leaders in their field for customer service.

How I Define Customer Experience

By Olivier Arnoux
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience
and Satisfaction


Just type on Google “what is Customer Experience?” and you will have 352,000,000 answers in less than 0.30 seconds…

Check “Customer Experience” on the Collins English Dictionary On Line and, interestingly, you will have no proposal. On the contrary, you will have a suggestion for “did you mean “near-death experience?””: I must recognized that sometimes, we are not that far…

There are many articles, blogs and books on “Customer Experience” (CX), more and more job offers, larger and larger conferences and self-declared gurus on the topic... But finally, “what is Customer Experience?”

There is a consensus, between me and myself, on defining “technically” “what is Customer Experience” as the sum of interactions between a Customer and a Brand and how it is perceived, consciously or unconsciously by the Customer.

For me, “CX” is about creating value and being able to answer one simple question: what is possible to do, that our clients need, that we can do profitably, better than our competitors, with whom we can cooperate?”

For me, “CX” is about defining a system composed of different elements (functional departments such as marketing, sales, finance, legal, supply chain, communication…, attitude, design, atmosphere, products, services, systems… ) efficiently coordinated to deliver intentionally a CX.

For me at last, “CX” is about making people happy, our Customer, our Staff and of course our bosses, our colleagues, our owners and our shareholders by engaging them over time and over location into a true and authentic relationship (see my post on this topic: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-do-our-customers-want-feel-olivier?trk=mp-author-card)

Quite often, there are some confusion on how companies describe the area of CX.

When defining a CX, there are 3 dimensions to consider:

A “why are we doing this?" dimension: the business objective(s)
Many times, people jumps directly on “we want to deliver a memorable experience”. Ok but what for? And to who? How often? With which return on investment?... “Customer Experience” is about “business”. You must be extremely clear on what you want to achieve from a business perspective…and this must be translated into financial goals.

I advise you to read this interesting white paper from Oracle on Customer Experience metrics and KPIs: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/cx-metrics-kpi-dictionary-1966465.pdf

In summary, the author of this article describes the “Customer Experience Value Equation” as composed of 3 business challenges yielding a total of 9 business objectives:
  • Acquisition (increase sales)
    • Generate more opportunities
    • Increase brand equity
    • Increase market share
  • Retention (monetize relationships)
    • Increase share of wallet
    • Drive loyalty
    • Drive advocacy
  • Efficiency (leverage investments)
    • Increase ROIC (Return on Invested Capital) or EVA (Economic Value Add)
    • Increase productivity
    • Decrease cost of operations.
Once you are clear on your financial goals, you can link and measure your actions to/against it. Believe me, it is useful when your CEO or/and your Chief Financial Officer ask you “why do you need this budget?” or “What’s in for us…and our shareholders?”…

A “what do we want to achieve?” dimension: the intent.
CX is at the cross-road of “who you serve” and “who you are”.
On each point of interaction, between the Customer and the Brand, the “Customer Experience” has to be consistent, intentional, differentiated and valuable.

There are for me, 3 key intents to cover when defining “Customer Experience.
  • The “Functional intent (delivering the basics): this is the part of the CX related to an outcome, a result, a benefit to the Customer. Although this relates to “basics”, you must set the norms and be the best at delivering the fundamentals of your industry. You tell your Customer “you (really) get what you pay for” and in return your Customer would say “they know what they are doing and you rarely see an error”.
  • The “Personal intent” (meeting individual needs): this is the part of the CX related to meeting individual needs, personalizing the interactions and being relevant. You tell your Customer “you are unique” and in return your Customer would say “they know me and adapt their services / content accordingly”.
  • The “Emotional intent” (shifting expectations): this is the part of the CX related to emotions, to the “magic” to infuse inside Customer Experience. There are many companies that excel at delivering the fundamentals (extra)ordinary well but they lack this emotional dimension (I would put for instance Toyota in this category). With the emotional intent, you tell your Customer “you are special” and in return you Customer would say “they always make you feel special and they always go for extra mile to serve you”.

A “how do we deliver?” dimension: the means.
The intentional side of CX represents 20% of the Customer Experience while the “means” one represents 80%: once your intent is properly defined, you have to deliver!

Accommodation, design, atmosphere, products, furniture, equipment, conditions, cleanliness, staff, digital, staff, processes…: there are many “means” that contribute to deliver CX.

These means can be described as follow:
  • Organization: which includes factors like the organization chart, alignment amongst departments, how you design the critical touch points to deliver upon your promise, formal goals, tools, resources…
  • Processes: how the work is set up, the support processes for the work, how the information is passed through the business…
  • Individual performers: the skills and knowledge of the staff, what motivates them, the structure of their specific jobs, where they are likely to come from, how you develop and implement your change management strategy…
As a conclusion, when we define “Customer Experience”, we should enlarge our vision to the 3 dimensions of CX (subdivided in 3 parts):

3 Customer Experience business challenges:
  • Acquisition (increase sales)
  • Retention (monetize relationships)
  • Efficiency (leverage investments)
3 Customer Experience intent:
  • Functional (delivering upon promise)
  • Personal (meeting individual needs)
  • Emotional (shifting expectations)
3 Customer Experience means:
  • Organisation (functions and tools)
  • Processes (how the work is set up).
  • People (skills and knowledge).
A last word: I really like a sentence from the Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schutz who said “we are not here to serve coffee, we are here to serve people”. “Customer experience” is not about a digital journey, a churn rate, call centers, MOOC, disruptive innovation, big data, smart data, e-reputation, the best bread in town and so on: regardless of your objectives, intent and means, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS ABOUT PEOPLE!

Full disclosure: I work for Accor. Any views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

Olivier Arnoux is a Customer Experience and Operations senior manager with over 16 years of experience in multiple industries including automotive, hospitality and luxury experience. His specialties include developing and implementing Customer Experiences: Customer insights, strategy, experience design and redesign (supply chain, sales, marketing, after sales, finance, purchasing, call centres, HR…), digital experience, cultural adaptation, international deployment, measure of performances, governance, Customer centric culture and continuous improvement. He is proud to drive change management including cross-functional alignment, and team engagement from entrepreneurship to "service from the heart."

Here is an exciting preview from Frost & Sullivan’s upcoming Executive MindXchange Chronicles: Customer Contact 2015, East:

Reach for the Summit: Achieving Your Personal, Team, and Leadership Goal
Keynote speaker Scott Kress, President, Summit Team Building, called upon his considerable experience as a team leadership teacher at several universities and as a leader of non-profit traveling activities for veterans to talk about team building and leadership.  His purpose was to inspire people in the audience to do things differently by focusing on building teams. In his engaging keynote, he reviewed techniques for attendees to implement in their own environments, reiterated that key business goals should always include team work and leadership and shared insights on how to deal with change and overcome challenges in today’s fast-moving world.

Reach for the Summit: Achieving Your Personal, Team, and Leadership Goals

Scott Kress, President, Summit Team Building

  • Team work is the most important factor in organizational success 
  • Communication with your team is key. You have to be able to talk about the good and the bad to make communication effective.
  • The higher you go in achieving team goals, the harder it becomes to achieve them.
  • High performance teams succeed and low performance teams fail. 
  • We take it for granted, but there is a lot more to the success of a team than bringing good people together.  Every high performance team needs a mentor. 
  • The job of the leader is to serve his team.   
  • 80% of people fail at success because when they are close to reaching their goals, they relax and no longer focus on creativity and innovation. 
  • Success can lead to failure if you don’t focus on maintaining it.
You have to have a good relationship with team members to build a successful team.  You have to know about each other, about their values, their family, etc. It’s important to spend time with your team talking about leadership and motivation.  You want to talk about your vision and share it with the team.  All team members need to be on the same page.  The key to leadership is communication.  Let the team know what the expectations are, and what actions are to be taken.  Define roles and responsibilities.

 You need to build time for reflection.  Look at yourself and figure out what you are doing well, and what you need to work on.  Work in stages.  Break down goals from large to small.  Go from yearly, to monthly, to daily and even hourly, to be able to achieve them. 

How to Conduct A Team Analysis:

  • Form: When you first bring your team together strive to build a foundation, a relationship.  Set values, goals, a mission, and vision, every time.
  • Storm:  Things normally don’t go as planned.  When you run into conflicts, and you have a good foundation, it is easier to get through.  It is critical for our success.  You have to look at all the possibilities. 
  • Norm: Keep the team motivated and in a good state of mind. How you choose to lead, and to be a good team member dictates your rate of success.
  • Circle of influence:  Rate of success 80%.  Keep yourself in a good mental and personal state.  Positive thinking.
  • Circle of concern:  Rate of success 9%.  Stress, a negative environment and negative thinking are your enemies.
  • Perform:  Keys to be successful when working as a team: 
  • Leadership
  • Inspiring vision
  • Mind exchange / Communication
  • Create the future
  • Be Accountable for results
Things you can do today:
  • Create your vision
  • Analyze your team development
  • Chart your concerns and influence
  • Take ownership of your results, whether they are good or bad
  • Choose your attitude
  • Have a meeting once a week for 10 minutes.  Analyze the following: Are we doing what we said we are going to do?  Are we losing our way?
Your attitude determines your altitude.  Ultimately nothing fails like success. When it comes to making a difference, if it is not you, then who?  If it is not now, then when?