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 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  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 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:

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:

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?

Customer Experience: "The Crucial Differentiator"

By Carlos Paniagua
Director, Relationship Care® Partnerships
American Express

Service remains a major reason why customers choose American Express today. Yet this is an unprecedented time, and service has never been more important than now. Customer Experience has become the crucial differentiator. Companies need to deliver best in class customer experience.

First, there are the regulators, who have become more vigilant in recent years. This increased regulatory scrutiny of financial services is a result of distrust. But when trust in the financial services industry is uncertain, service makes the difference. Coming out of the recession in a still uncertain world, people want elevated service and companies they can trust. Regulators are keeping companies increasingly accountable for being clear and credible with their consumers. So companies need to show customers and regulators that they’re not just being compliant, but that they are going above and beyond.

Today’s consumers have higher expectations than ever. This is, in large part, because customers’ expectations are informed by service experiences across industries. Customers are more demanding and more vocal than ever before:

  • They’re more informed.
  • They’re accessing multiple service touch-points.
  • They’re sharing information about their experiences in virtual communities.
  • They’re part of an interconnected, “want it now” society.
  • They look for meaning from what they buy and who they buy it from.
  • They’re aware of their purchase power and want valuable experiences in exchange for their loyalty.

And then, there’s the competitive landscape. Being part of a service-led cultural transformation, as today’s competitors are rapidly becoming service-focused, as opposed to product-focused. Companies should be looking to achieve scores that put them among the top service providers in the world, not just those within their industry.

There’s a set of consistent service values from world class service leaders across industries:

  1. Develop a deep understanding of customers needs
  2. Secure top-down commitment
  3. Revere the front line
  4. Measure and reward based on the voice of the customer
  5. Acknowledge failure and recover with grace

To truly drive a transformation and not an incremental change, servicing should be an ecosystem of leadership, people and tools which all work together with the customer at the center.

Prevent issues and failures in the first place rather than being really good at fixing them.
Companies should view service as an investment—an opportunity to build relationships and customer loyalty. It’s all about customer-centricity, using the Voice of Customer to define great service:

  1. Do what you say you’ll do.  Deliver seamlessly. This is the baseline prerequisite level of delivery, and it includes recognizing a customer’s choice and keeping the “contract” with them.
  2. Do more than I expect.  Go the extra mile and do all the little things beyond what’s contractually obligated. Take the relationship and personal circumstances into account. Be flexible. Listen.
  3. Acknowledge failure. Customers don’t care about internal structure or obstacles. Reach out to customers who were dissatisfied with service interactions to understand what could be done differently.
  4. Validate my choice.  Give customers ease, convenience and access to information.
  5. Make me feel special.   Make every customer feel like they’re recognized and treated better than other customers. Do the little things that make customers feel special, like giving perks and making exceptions.
  6. Make feel you know me.  Be genuine and treat customers like people, not account numbers. Make every customer interaction feel like part of a relationship. Act appropriately and accordingly.
  7. So while the customer remains a focal point at American Express, customer-centricity is a virtuous cycle that rewards all constituents. It’s driving key benefits to  employees, customers and shareholders alike:
For the employee, there’s job satisfaction, incentive pay and new opportunities. With the ability to add a human touch to their work. We need to invest more in our employees to enable and empower them to deliver extraordinary service. This includes tools, training and leadership focus. And as a result, the majority of employees will have improvement in their performance.

For the customer, they see more value in every interaction. Customer-centricity provides the environment for a service experience that makes customers feel valued and helps them get the most from  products and services they’re paying for.

For shareholders, will drive improvements across all important measures of business success. Most notably,  a lift in Recommend to a Friend scores, which translate to profitability.
In summary companies have to:

  • Create a customer-centric culture and experience by shifting from a transaction-servicing model to one that deepens engagement
  • And build competitive advantage and deliver economic value through meaningful engagement with customers.