Employees Are Customer Experience Pros’ Best Weapon

If you called American Express a few years ago to report a lost credit card, you got the card cancelled right on the spot. If it appeared under the couch a few minutes later, you were out of luck. You still had to wait several days for a new card to arrive. It was bad for you. It was bad for AmEx. Luckily, a customer care professional (CCP) noticed this phenomenon. And, luckily, AmEx had a formal program for CCPs to suggest policy changes to improve customer experience. If you call to report a lost card today, you can put a 24-hour hold on your card instead of cancelling it. If it turns up, you can have it reinstated — and then go use it. Everybody wins.

This solution may seem obvious looking back, but only an employee with unique contextual insight could spot it at the time. If your company isn’t taking advantage of this insight, you’re missing out.

As I describe in my new report, employees hold the key to great customer experiences. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Many employees observe customer interactions directly, so they can spot emerging customer needs and issues before they surface in traditional customer research.
  2. Employees also understand internal operations, so they’re in a natural position to identify root causes of customer problems and suggest solutions. Back-office employees have just as much to offer here as customer-facing employees do.
  3. In addition to having valuable insight, employees have enormous influence. They directly shape the processes and interactions that affect customers, so they can make arms-length changes to quickly improve customer experience. 
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It’s Time To Reboot Your Infrastructure & Operations Strategy

I just spent the better part of December on the road visiting infrastructure & operations (I&O) executives at our clients. Meeting clients is always interesting, but this year was particularly interesting. Why? Because most of the executives I met were a bit panicked. That’s not to say they aren’t good at their jobs, or that they don’t understand how to overcome the day-to-day challenges they face. No, this was something different. Something unprecedented is unfolding — and it’s unfolding with frightening speed. Put simply, these I&O execs all echoed one thing: they’re ill equipped to support empowered employees.

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Counterintuitive Collaboration Trends 2011: Consumerization Leads The Disrupter List

It's important sometimes to step back from the obvious trends and look at things that lie just beyond the light. So in addition to the clear trends in play: mobilizing the entire collaboration toolkit, moving collaboration services to the cloud (often in support of mobile work); and consolidating collaboration workloads onto a full-featured collaboration platform, here are six counterintuitive trends for 2011 (for more detail and an analysis of what content & collaboration professionals should do, please read the full report available to Forrester clients or by credit card):

  1. Consumerization gets board-level approval. Consumerization is inevitable; your response is not. In 2011, tackle this head on. (And read our book, Empowered, while you're at it -- it has a recipe for business success in the empowered era, a world in which customers and employees have power.)
  2. The email inbox gets even more important. I know the established wisdom is for email to get less relevant as Gen Y tweets their way to business collaboration. But come on, look at all the drivers of email: feeds from social media, universal, pervasive on any device. Email's here to stay. But it's time to reinvent the inbox. IBM and Google are leading this charge.
  3. The cloud cements its role as the place for collaboration innovation. The cloud is better for mobile, telework, and distributed organizations. And cloud collaboration services will get better faster than on-premise alternatives. Full stop. The math isn't hard to do. A quarterly product release cycle beats four-year upgrade cycles and every time.
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