Monday, November 14, 2016

Using Big Data Text Analysis to Determine Profitability Drivers – How to Measure and Manage the Customer Experience in the 21st Century

Professor Phil Klaus
International University of Monaco
INSEEC Research Center

Managers around the globe recognize the importance of customer experience (CX) measurement and management as the ultimate success driver for their business.

Yet, a major problem is that despite an understanding of the importance of customer relationships to a company’s success and an enthusiastic embrace of customer experience management, many managers do not have a good understanding of what customer experience management entails, nor do they know precisely what they must do to achieve success. As a matter of fact, 9 out of 10 CX programs are not profitable.

That is why the introduction of a new text-analytic-based measurement is both important and timely. Businesses that recognize how complex the process of designing, managing and measuring customer experience can be are provided with a clear step-by-step approach based upon the latest research and many years of previous work dedicated to this task.

The CX meta-mining approach, incorporating the successful application of the EXQ scale, can enable executives to move faster and outperform their competitors. CX meta-mining provides a useful guide, and addresses the three most pressing questions managers face today:

  • Where are we currently in terms of managing and measuring customer experience? 
  • Where do we want to be?
  • And most important, how do we get there?

The measurement delivers the answer to these questions 

The development of CX meta-mining was driven by client needs to enrich the knowledge gained through EXQ with existing data and leverage what their customers really thought about them. By this we mean what drives their purchasing behavior, their Share-of-Category (SoC), and ultimately, businesses profitability.  EXQ, the comprehensive measurement for CX, highlights these individual drivers in terms of importance. It lists which parts of your customers‘ experience drives how much money they spent with you versus your competitors, as illustrated in the example in table 1. 

Table 1 EXQ Example SoC Drivers with Competitor Comparison

EXQ allows managers to dissect the reasons for all purchasing decisions, including your competitors. It allows you to clearly identify actionable trends, as, in the example above, the importance of the ‘human’ and ‘emotional’ factor in a perceived long-term, not just sale-based relationship. 

Managers, however, often have often difficulty determining the exact meaning of, for example, ‘Your company demonstrates flexibility in dealing with me.’ CX meta-mining delivers a coherent platform allowing all team members to easily understand what a specific EXQ item means and which actions to engage in to increase SoC, and which actions to avoid to decrease SoC. 

CX meta-mining is particularly useful for analyzing already existing market research, Most existing customer experience measurements are based on static, survey tools. CX, however is dynamic in nature, requiring dynamic tools to match. The use of mobile apps to capture customer experience by using a “diary” approach is still in its infancy, but shows huge promise. This can be taken one step further by developing CX meta-mining, based upon EXQ-profitability-driver knowledge as a dynamic, multimodal measurement approach, capturing traditional ratings, text, pictures, voice and videos.   The combination of EXQ and CX meta-mining gives managers the tools for their business not only to survive, but  to thrive in a customer-dominated world. How does it work? 

CX meta-mining collects data – and makes sense of it – in real-time. Using techniques developed in health research a collection of ‘live’ CX data from consumers, is embedded while they are participating in their customer experience. Stated simply, CX meta-mining involves isolating relevant strings from documents, computing co-occurrence between strings at different levels, and examining the topology of the resulting network. Visual data is analyzed using basic feature extraction and labeling techniques. Survey ratings are also collected to capture CX. Importantly, this collection format allows one to cross-link all three data types for richer and finer-grained analysis of CX. For example, prominent themes extracted from the text and visual data can be linked to more focused rating questions.

Rather than looking for ‘hotspots’ or ‘word counts,’ CX meta-mining makes sense of what is being said and relates it to the important question ‘will this make my (existing and potential) customers buy more (and more often) from me rather than from my competitor? EXQ and meta-mining give therefore every single person in the company clear – and easy to follow – rules on what drives profitability, what it means in terms of how  the customer perceives their experience, and what to do and not to do (see screenshot below). In summary, the combination of EXQ and CX meta-mining delivers the most advanced, scientifically-based tool to measure and manage a more profitable customer experience program.

Professor Phil Klaus is considered one of the leading Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy experts worldwide. He is Professor of Customer Experience at the International University of Monaco INSEEC Research Center, founder of Dr. Phil Klaus & Associates Consulting, Professor of Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy, bestselling author of “Measuring Customer Experience – How to Develop and Execute the Most Profitable Customer Experience Strategies,” and holds multiple visiting professorships around the globe. 

His award-winning research has appeared in numerous books, and a wide range of top-tier academic and managerial journals. Phil is a frequent keynote speaker at public and in-company seminars and conferences around the world. He is an experienced manager and management consultant with an active, international portfolio of Blue-Chip clients for whom he advises on customer experience strategy, profit enhancement, 'next practice,' and business development. Phil may be reached at:

You’re Invited: Exclusive Kohl’s Site Tour for
Customer Contact Executives and Colleagues!

Act now--Registration limited to the first 50 respondents

Customer contact industry executives and business colleagues are cordially invited to attend a Kohl’s Site Tour on February 8, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. This informative event will feature an in-depth, behind the scenes look at a new contact center that is:

  • Large, open and progressive
  • On the pulse of omni-channel and self-service
  • Specifically designed to foster collaboration 

The day will begin with a networking breakfast at 9am, after which attendees will move on to the contact center site tour from 10am until noon. From noon until 1pm, participants will enjoy an executive roundtable luncheon featuring a recap of key tour insights and take-aways as well as a formal discussion on Omni-Channel Customer Engagement. Participants will benefit from peer to peer networking and idea exchanges at this timely roundtable discussion. 

This is a great opportunity for customer contact executives and colleagues to enjoy and learn from an up close view of Kohl's state-of-the-art customer service space, operations and philosophy. The tour is open to council members and others in the customer contact industry, but will be at capacity at 50 people, so please register soon and spread the word!

For registration, hotel recommendations and more information, please contact Matt McSweegan at or 516-255-3812 for details. Or contact us at

*Please note, may not be open to all organizations due to non-disclosure restrictions

Six Leads for Getting Customers on Your Side

Petra Mengelt
Director, Customer Experience 
Euroloan Group Plc

Think of this article as an intense training session where there is no PowerPoint show, instead there is an energetic woman standing right up front. With a marker in her hand and a relatively interesting drawing right behind her that makes sense only to people present. She is involving the audience, her mind jumping up and down as in a game of tennis. There are short stories flipped around, things you may actually be able to remember.

What is she saying about customers? She is a strong believer in a can do-spirit that is immediately apparent at her company, a rapidly growing international FinTech group, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland. A couple of years ago they said they were going to challenge the business; these days, they are doing it. 

The woman you are imagining giving you a training session is me, Petra Mengelt, a customer experience director at Euroloan Group PLC. I want to challenge the traditional online banking service and instead provide a personal, digital experience, one that customers remember and are willing to recommend. I have over fifteen years of lean management experience in the aerospace and metals industry, as well as entrepreneurship and customer service management experience in the USA and in Europe.

For over a decade, I have trained hundreds of people, from entry level employees all the way to board members on how to improve their attitude. I have also tried to provide all my audiences with a broader understanding of the importance  and value of working throughout the organization to achieve the same goals. Currently, I have my hands full with the group’s new financial technology company, Jolt Bank. I am creating a world class customer experience for great customers-to-be. One must be fearless as every pilot and development project confronts us with unexpected challenges with no ready answers, and there is no standard hand book of ready answers to follow. 

Now, I will give you six leads into winning customers to your side. So, listen carefully. I believe that sharing our vision and listening to customer feedback carefully can spice things up. Dull is never exciting, hence the opposite. This is why customer experience success needs a recipe! And did you know, our recipe is not a secret. We encourage you to come along and bring your appetite for success.


Everything starts with motivation. Whatever it is that you do, do it with passion and attention to quality. If you are truly interested in something, half of what you do is purely your enthusiasm, your attitude. However, now comes the “but” part: being just casually interested in something is not enough these days. 


Nothing works efficiently with mediocre minds. Do not let the trends overtake you. When an enterprise has people with a known capacity level serving the customer, we must understand that each employee needs support with the best tools and training material available. As change is constant, new opportunities arrive at an increasing rate and threaten to pass left and right: unless we grab the next opportunity to make new growth, we may as well count ourselves out. How an agent, for instance, deals with a customer, with what attitude and approach, how the know-how and competence are aligned, makes the difference today. I want to see smiles even at 2am in the morning. We run in a 24/7 world for all of our customers.


I work with our customers and their feedback. I tell everyone to share the information. Why? Because it may be that one little piece of information that you think is not that important, may connect things into “this makes sense now” for someone else. And, it should be relatively easy to push that delete button if you did not need to know something. 

I also network across borders and throughout our business disciplines. I love to hear what’s new in international circles, form the hottest new luxury brand’s mind-set straight through to the largest European investment banks’ customer experience. Oftentimes the best ideas come to you from unexpected quarters. 


Assumptions are sometimes necessary to move forward with a project, but if those assumptions are without solid basis they will lead to mistakes and incorrect decisions.  If we are afraid of making any mistakes ever, we become too careful, and that is not good either, is it? Let’s forget about titles: instead in a start up, everyone has the opportunity to lead the orchestra, be a detective, a housekeeper, a runner, a listener, and even a mother at times. Be aware and understand the little nuances in people and help them to achieve their best results. It can be quite challenging to accustom one’s self to the idea that there are no ready answers.  The start-up world brings a tremendous amount of empowerment.


I am an advocate of involving all organizational layers to participate in customer experience. To understand customer centricity is not only connecting the service to customers, but making everyone at the company responsible for the result.  “This is not my responsibility, I don’t know how” is something I am not willing to listen to. Instead, I challenge you to ask: “Please, teach me how!” 

Customer experience is an interesting function because in the end it touches on all company functions from employees, to customers and management, to investors. Effective customer experience leadership demands a dynamic voice to communicate the journey to all affected parties. Customer experience is also about how our employees experience the work they do. Think of it as this way: when one has fun at work, and on top of that, one is also motivated, a better outcome is inevitable. Happy employees generate better ideas, that is just a fact.


Euroloan currently renewed their five-year strategy, where they concluded that their employees should feel excited about the coming work week, already on the Sunday evening. The idea is to engage the workforce from the office staff to the top, and create an inspired and inspiring workplace, with an energy that customers can feel. I believe that I can give the European world of fintech banking a little bit of that American “great wonderful” spice: we merely need to Europeanize it first. Every customer contact is an opportunity to create an emotional trigger.


In the end, there is no secret, it is all about hard work. Give the full one hundred percent, do not multi task and be present. And dare to say no if you cannot do it. My nine-year-old daughter, Sara, just interrupted me a few weeks back and said something that made me think. She said, as nicely as a child can, in a matter of a fact voice, “Mom, can you please look me in the eye when you talk to me and not play with your phone while we are trying to have a conversation?”

Based on continuously measured customer satisfaction surveys, Euroloan has been able to build up customer experience to double digit percentages. In commonly measured surveys of satisfaction, Euroloan finds itself almost without peer in the online banking industry, posting satisfaction levels that the likes of major names in Europe would envy.

Petra Mengelt is the Head of Customer Experience at Jolt Bank, an organization dedicated to identifying the real needs of customers and building trusted relationships with customers. She is passionate about involving all organizational layers to participate in the customer experience journey and believes that customer experience doesn’t function via a rigid top-down command structure; rather, greater results are achieved when one empowers employees to influence the results.  She puts a high emphasis on challenging traditional banking by well done, world class digital customer experience. 

Petra is also the Director of Customer Experience at Euroloan Group Plc, in Finland where she is responsible for the customer experience throughout the customer journey. She  has led Euroloan Consumer Finance’s customer experience for the past five years. Prior to entering the world of financial innovation, she worked in the aerospace and metals industries in the US and Europe. She is also an entrepreneur. Petra invites you to join her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @petrataan

Monday, November 7, 2016

Consumer Affairs, T-Mobile and Vodafone Receive Top Honors At Customer Service Excellence Recognition Celebration

Winners of the 2016 Customer Service Excellence Program Awards announced earlier this year gathered at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ, for a gala breakfast awards ceremony to be recognized for their outstanding achievements. From among the winners, the program’s distinguished panel of expert judges selected Vodafone, T-Mobile and Consumers Affairs as the high achievers.

Vodafone was named the High Achiever in Omni Channel Customer Engagement for excellence in current and future customer engagement capabilities in traditional and digital channels. Bobbie Bichel, Senior Manager, Customer Presales and Service, accepted on behalf of Vodafone. 

In the Customer Analytics category, Consumer Affairs was named high achiever for excellence in leveraging analytics to deliver differentiated customer experiences, while driving improvements in operational KPIs for the organization. Eric Jenkins, Chief Operations Officer, accepted on behalf of Consumer Affairs. Consumer Affairs was also named the high achiever in the Web Customer Experience Category, for excellence in web self-service, chat, and integrated customer collaboration and support capabilities. 

T-Mobile was named High Achiever for excellence in social media customer service. This includes internal channels such as customer communities and support forums, as well as external channels such as Facebook and other social media sites. Michelle Mattson, Director of Social Media Care, accepted on behalf of T-Mobile. 

Other Winners were also honored:

  • StubHub – Accepting on behalf of StubHub is Mary Hill, Manager, Customer Service and Social Media for social media excellence
  • Dollar Shave Club – Accepting on Behalf of Dollar Shave Club is Ken Mirch, Director of Member Services, for omni channel customer experience
  • Rocana – Accepting on Behalf of Rocana is Melissa Hueman, Director of Customer Success, for omni channel customer experience 

About The Customer Service Excellence Recognition Program 

The Customer Service Excellence Recognition Program, made possible through the coordination of the Frost & Sullivan Customer Engagement Digital Transformation practice, Frost & Sullivan Research Insights practice and the Frost & Sullivan Customer Contact Executive MindXchange, honors companies and individual leaders that are shaping the future of Customer Service. Honored recipients have demonstrated achievement in one or more of five categories: Omni-channel Customer Experience, Mobile Customer Care, Web Customer Experience, Social Media Customer Engagement and Customer Engagement Analytics. There are several honorees in each category, from which one Highest Achiever in each category is identified. 

Companies are vetted through a rigorous two-stage evaluation process. The initial stage involves the completion of a questionnaire application. Questions posed will range from customer engagement capabilities to business outcomes. Entrants are free to apply in one or more categories, provided responses are complete for each section.

Qualifying companies will then progress to the second stage for evaluation by a judging panel consisting of experts from the industry and Frost & Sullivan research analysts.

For more information about the Customer Service Excellence Recognition Program, please go to

Decentralize Quality Assurance and Take Performance to the Next Level

Centralized quality teams are a common organizational design strategy in the contact center industry today and have been for years.  There are articles, best practices, and benchmarking that will tell you how to do it, how often to do it, and what to do with the results.  But, if you ask the front line service representative what they think about it, you will often discover the pitfalls of these programs…

  1. Not enough calls are audited to make the score a true representation of their contribution.
  2. The score does not align with the feedback they get from clients.
  3. The scores feel punitive.  Fear of a bad score becomes a motivator.
  4. The coaching they receive is based on the points and the score, which isn’t adding value.
  5. Career discussions lead to this comment…“It makes me feel like I am in a job, not a career.”
  6. Human nature is such that people will behave in ways that conform to the audit to prevent a low score, leaving individual creativity and problem solving behind in devotion to this conformity.
  7. Attainment of the coveted 100% score comes with little fanfare, because that is the expectation.  As a result of the high score, there is no performance dialogue because the CSR did everything “right.” Unfortunately, this “keep up the good work” mentality does not drive sustained and improved performance.

Our advice to you… scrap the status quo and throw that form away. Your service representatives and customers will thank you.

So, what other approaches are there to escape the status quo?  How can the process be designed to build service skills and develop staff from a customer experience perspective?  How do you fund an alternative design that accomplishes these objectives?

Let’s dig in!  We will oversimplify our approach a little in this article in order to make a point, but the strategy can be applied in increasingly complex organizations…in fact, it is more effective as complexity increases.  For illustration purposes, let’s take a 98 seat contact center that is focused on incoming calls.  The team, with support and overhead, looks like this today…

Each manager has 18 direct reports and provides career coaching and performance management.  The Quality Assurance Team (QA Team) listens to calls, completes audit sheets, provides feedback to the manager, and may provide feedback to the front line customer service representatives (CSRs).

These arrangements, while common, produce quality scores that are not in alignment with customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, customer effort scores, and don’t ensure the delivery of an intended service experience.  Rather, they ensure compliance to scripting, adherence to soft skill training, and create an environment that feels punitive and is focused on a number, rather than a set of behaviors that lead to results the enterprise needs to attain. They don’t allow the contact center to be a strategic asset, rather they keep the status quo alive, enable stagnation, and label the center as a “necessary expense” (i.e. a target for expense reduction).

Let’s consider an alternative organizational design with the same headcount…

In this design, we have decentralized the Quality Assurance Team and created embedded coaching positions.  The next step in the process is developing those coaches on behavioral based coaching philosophies, creating a coaching plan (discussed below), and setting new expectations on service delivery in the performance management review process.  This is the beginning of creating a coaching-centric culture that will generate the following benefits…

  1. Coaches that build relationships with front line CSRs and create trust in the development of behaviors that drive quality.  The score is no longer relevant, but by addressing the core behaviors, you get the quality by default.  That quality manifests itself in customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, and customer effort scores, which drives value to the enterprise.
  2. Creation of a coaching plan, which is a living document that focuses on the behaviors that are being developed currently.  As behaviors change and new behaviors become the focus, the coaching plan shows the development path of a CSR throughout time and becomes a natural fit with the performance review process.  The behaviors are based on core competencies that are set at the organizational level and tie directly to the goals of the contact center, as well as the goals of the enterprise.
  3. As the organization continues to transform and focuses on continuous improvement, the coaching-centric model allows for sustainment of benefits.  So often, you hear leaders talk about an improvement initiative that generated great benefits that subsequently faded away, returning the organization to a previous undesirable state.  By setting best practices and utilizing your coaching network to reinforce the behaviors and standards that have been implemented, you sustain the benefits of change…and you can speed up your efforts to transform faster and better than with the previous organizational model.

All this being said, humans still like to measure themselves…so how can we replace the quality score with something meaningful?  This is where customer satisfaction scores come in.  A good majority of contact centers have post-call surveys and utilize a tool that reports results at the individual CSR level.  So, if a score of some type is still desired, the customer satisfaction score becomes a natural fit with the new organizational design and quality strategy.  Further, by designing your post-call survey with questions about CSR satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, and overall effort expended, you can report out on CSR effectiveness, Net Promoter Score, and the Customer Effort score…three major drivers of satisfaction and loyalty for your enterprise.  Additionally, if you have the ability to allow front line CSRs to listen to their own recorded calls, you can add an element of self-development to this process…making the strategy even more effective with a higher level of accountability.

But what about the old form…does it still have a purpose in the new coaching-centric organization?  Here’s an idea to think about the process differently…alter the audit form and use it as a tool for the front line to provide feedback on the quality of coaching they receive.  This adds a new level of accountability on the coaching layer of the organization and ensures the benefit from the investment in their development continues to be sustained.  But that is another article.

James (Jim) LeMere is Director of Integrated Client and Field Services (ICFS) in the Insurance and Annuity Client Services (IACS) Department at Northwestern Mutual. Jim is responsible for the direction and oversight of the people that service over 1.5 million calls and transactions for life insurance policies and their policy owners. Since joining IACS in May of 2014, LeMere has been charged with leading ICFS through a cultural transformation that supports Continuous Learning & Improvement (CL&I) activities and seeks a balance between process improvements and respect for people. 

Prior to coming to Northwestern Mutual, LeMere held a variety of roles within the insurance and hospitality industries.  He started in the sales field with Prudential, then later moved to the home office environment in operations with Lincoln Financial Group, LeMere’s experience continued in the insurance industry at Conseco Insurance Group and in the hospitality industry at Great Wolf Resorts and has been focused on process improvement and re-engineering, while driving employee engagement, customer experience, and cost efficiency. 

Jeremy Lewandowski is an Operations Consultant focused on strategy and analytics related to blended contact centers at Northwestern Mutual. His responsibilities include contact center technology, reporting, impact analysis, staffing strategies, and best practices proliferation across the organization.

Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, Lewandowski held a number of roles within contact center operations at the online retailer BuySeasons Inc. Starting as a Service Representative, he moved progressively into leadership roles within the contact center from workforce management to training to QA Supervisor and eventually to Operations Manager.  As Operations Manager, he helped drive efficiency and improved client satisfaction for and, leading to J.D. Power customer satisfaction awards in 2011 and 2012.