Connecting Frontline Staff To Customer Experience: Two Conundrums

I started an unusual research project recently. As a follow-up to my report on the customer experience ecosystem, I wanted to dig into the highly visible role of frontline employees like call center agents, in-home service technicians, and retail staff. Specifically, I wanted to know how customer experience professionals could help these folks understand how they personally affect customers’ interactions and perceptions of the brand.

The topic was – I thought – pretty straightforward, and it essentially boiled down to two main questions: What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees? And should you compensate frontline employees based on their individual feedback?

But what made this research effort so unusual, and so unlike most of my other projects, is that as I conducted more and more interviews, the opinions and “best practices” began to diverge wildly. I found a variety of incompatible tactics. But more than that, I uncovered major differences in management philosophies and deep passions underlying those beliefs.

What’s the best way to share customer feedback with frontline employees?  

A bevy of enterprise feedback management solutions can help managers collect and analyze feedback from customers – and not just about their overall impressions of a company, but about interactions with individual frontline staff members. Firms can collect survey-based quant data and/or verbatims. But what to share? The answers I’ve encountered include:

Read more

Give 10 Minutes, Get Free Customer Experience Data!

Are you a customer experience professional? Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Would you like some free data about the current state of customer experience?

If you answered “yes” to these three questions, please be a lamb and fill out Forrester’s Q3 2011 Customer Experience Survey.  (We’ve designed this to be super speedy for you to fill out 10 minutes at the maximum. We promise!) We’ll ask you a few questions about:

  • How people throughout your organization get involved with customer experience efforts.
  • The intersection of marketing and customer experience at your company.
  • The interaction of social media and customer experience at your company.

The info you provide will help shape several reports that we’ll be publishing over the next few months. 

The survey closes Wednesday, September 14th. After that date, we’ll analyze the data and send you the aggregate responses to each question — even if you’re not a Forrester client.

So give some, and get some! And thanks in advance for helping fuel our research.

(By the way, this survey is for customer experience professionals who are working to improve customer interactions with their own companies. Agency folks, tech vendors, and consultants: We’ll hit you up another time.)

Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping

I’ve just published a new report in response to all the great questions I’ve been getting about the customer experience ecosystem and the process of ecosystem mapping. Here are a couple of the questions (and answers!) from the report.

What is ecosystem mapping?

Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative process that helps companies identify the set of complex interdependencies that shape all of their interactions with customers. Typically conducted in a workshop setting, teams identify and document the people, processes, policies, and technologies that create the customer experience. This includes those parts of the ecosystem that are in plain view of customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.

What benefits should companies expect to get out of ecosystem mapping?

Companies that undertake ecosystem mapping exercises can expect multiple benefits, including:

  • Detailed knowledge of customers’ journeys. When customers and frontline staff join ecosystem mapping workshops, teams can construct a detailed picture of what customers go through when they interact with their company. More often than not, teams identify interactions that frustrate customers as well as opportunities where companies could interact with customers, but don’t.
  • Greater understanding of the interdependencies within the ecosystem. Ecosystem mapping helps teams identify previously hidden people, processes, policies, and technologies — and the customer interactions they influence.
Read more

Want To Transform Your Customer Experience? Learn More About Service Design

In my keynote at Forrester’s recent Customer Experience Forum, I introduced the audience to the emerging field of service design. Here’s a short video clip in case you missed it:

Because of their breadth and their focus on creating value for customers — as opposed to, say, developing marketing communication programs — service design agencies are key partners for companies looking to improve or overhaul their customer experience. If you’re not familiar with service design or haven’t yet worked with a service design agency, you should:

  • Read the Touchpoint journal. Touchpoint is the publication of the Service Design Network (SDN), a professional association for service designers and customer experience professionals.  You can order hard copies on the SDN website or get Kindle editions from Amazon. (Disclosure: I’m on the Touchpoint advisory board, contribute a regular column, and act as an occasional editor.)
  • Attend the 2011 service design conference on October 20th 21st in San Francisco. This year’s global service design conference will look at service design’s impact on business. (I hope to see you there!) Companies in Europe can also attend several regional conferences that take place each year.
Read more

How US Cellular Socializes Its Customer Experience Ecosystem

To get a grip on your customer experience ecosystem, you need to map it, co-create it, and socialize it.

In a previous post, I talked about how Fidelity Investments co-creates its customer experience ecosystem. Through co-creation exercises and workshops, you can engage a fairly large number of internal employees, external partners, and customers in the design of your company’s customer experience. But for most large companies, this group will still only represent a small fraction of the people in your entire ecosystem.

That’s why you also need to socialize the ecosystem. You need to help every single employee and every single partner — especially those in behind-the-scenes roles — understand how their actions and decisions affect the customer experience.

US Cellular spends a lot of time doing just that. US Cellular certainly isn’t the biggest wireless service provider in the US, but it consistently receives industry recognition for providing a great customer experience.

Read more