CX And The Power Of Shared Experience

One of the things we spend a lot of our time doing with our clients is delivering workshops with their key stakeholders. These workshops take many forms, but our most effective (and popular) are the customer journey mapping workshop and the customer experience maturity assessment workshop. These workshops are great: a killer combination of research-based structured framework and the brain trust of key client stakeholders who really know their business.
 
But it occurred to me after the last workshop I helped to deliver that something else was happening . . . something that wasn’t on the agenda, wasn’t in the statement of work, and wasn’t really planned. And this thing happened in pretty much every workshop I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.
 
The thing that happened was that people talked. I mean really talked. These workshops are structured so that people are not just sitting around a conference room table. They’re standing up and moving around the room, writing on little bits of paper on the walls, windows, and even the floor. And it’s at this point that something really cool happens. The discussions get focused. In one recent case, Manulife arranged a series of Client Experience Labs, and it invited all the most senior people from across all of Asia Pacific. Because this was not a Forrester-run event (we were just helping out by delivering content on our maturity assessment and customer experience ecosystem frameworks), I had a chance to observe the participants as they were working through the journeys their clients had to go through. What I noticed was this: at one point, 11 senior executives standing around a journey map on the wall talking about their clients. Nothing else mattered in that moment. How often does that happen in our busy work lives?
Read more

Broken Customer Experience Ecosystems: Australia Post

It all started with Johnny Cash. There he was looking out at me, his greatest hits, from the bargain bin at my local electronics shop for a fiver. Wow, a great bargain feeling that you simply don’t get from digital downloads. Unfortunately, upon returning home, I realized that my MacBook does not actually have a place where you can stick in a CD. How was I going to transfer this music now?
 
So I did what I normally do (and what the majority of consumers now normally do). I jumped online and went looking for an external CD drive for my MacBook to transfer my A$5 CD (the bargain cost of that CD suddenly lessened by needing to buy a piece of hardware to transfer it). I found what I wanted easily, bought it easily, paid for it easily. Satisfied.
 
And then it all went to pieces, thanks to Australia Post. And why did it go to pieces? Because Australia Post’s customer experience ecosystem is broken. Here’s why.
 
When customers in Australia are not home to receive a package, the delivery person leaves a small postcard telling them that they can pick up their package from their local Australia Post depot. Mine is a 10-minute drive away in a place called St. Leonards. I’ve received many of these cards, and I noticed with frustration that sometimes I was actually home when the card was delivered, and no attempt had been made to try to deliver the package.
 
Read more

CX Q&A With Nancy Clark, Senior Vice President — Operational Excellence, Verizon

There’s a good chance that you’re a Verizon customer. I am; I get my cable TV, Internet access, and home phone service from it.

All in all, there are 130 million of us Verizon customers — and that’s a daunting challenge for Verizon. How do you — how can you — create a high-quality, consistent customer experience for all those people when they’re buying and using such diverse products?

The answer: business process discipline. And that’s why we invited Nancy Clark to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Nancy is Verizon’s senior vice president, operational excellence, a business process maven, and the sharp point of the spear for the company’s customer experience improvement initiative.

Nancy was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what she’s doing. Read on for insight into how Verizon rose in every category of our Customer Experience Index that it’s in this year.

Those of you who’ll be with us in New York on Tuesday, June 24, can hear even more from Nancy. I hope to see you there!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

A: Verizon’s history dates back more than a century in some parts of our business. Like all good companies, we’ve always had a philosophy of putting the customer first. At the heart of this is a shared credo — our aspirational statement about who we are as a company. It fits on one page, but the word “customer” appears 10 times, and the first line is, “We have work because our customers value what we do.”

Read more

A Clean Well-Lighted Place . . . For CX?

An old man sits in a Spanish cafe. It’s late and warm, and he drinks brandy by the light of the cafe’s gas lights. While sitting within that light, the old man feels content, safe, and happy.
 
Ernest Hemingway wrote this short story in 1933, called A Clean Well-Lighted Place, and it has been my favorite story since reading it as an undergraduate more than 20 years ago. I have always strongly identified with the idea of finding one’s own “clean well-lighted place” — a place that is a productive and an inspiring place for one to do one’s work (or live one’s life). Mihály Csíkszentmihályi talks about a similar concept in positive psychology terms as being in “flow” in his book Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning.
 
But this is a blog post about customer experience. How is my love of a Hemingway short story and the concept of “flow” relevant? It occurs to me that the most successful CX programs I have witnessed unconsciously include these two ideas. Using the title of Hemingway’s story as a guiding metaphor, I think it nicely summarizes some of the best practices customer-centric companies imbue into their work.
 
Customer experience programs should have the following characteristics.
 
They should be clean:
  • They rely on human processes that are documented and clear.
  • Their processes, goals, and vision are transparent.
Read more

Data Is Beautiful (Or At Least, It Can Be)

The Eyeo Festival took place in Minneapolis last week. I missed it. I missed it for a very good reason, which is that I just started a new job as a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. But I still followed from afar, wishing I could hear firsthand about some of the fantastic projects and ideas that get presented there (and I’ll certainly check out the videos as they get posted).

What is the Eyeo Festival, you might be wondering? It’s a small annual conference that “brings together creative coders, data designers, and creators working at the intersection of data, art, and technology for inspiring talks, workshops, labs, and events.” I’ve been to two out of the four conferences and have come away both times incredibly inspired and impressed. This is not just big data. This is big, beautiful, informative data. The coders, designers, and creators both at Eyeo and elsewhere provide living proof that big (and small) data doesn’t have to be ugly, messy, or impossible to understand.

It can have an emotional impact and make a point like this project by Kim Rees and Periscopic, which uses mortality data from the World Health Organization to estimate the number of years lost to gun deaths in 2013 alone.

U.S. Gun Deaths in 2013

Read more

Customer Experience Q&A With Stephen Cannon, President And CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

When I was 10 years old, I heard my father and my Uncle Bob talking about the car they’d most like to own. Noticing me, Uncle Bob asked, “How about you, Harley? What car do you want to drive when you grow up?”

I immediately answered, “A Mercedes!”

My father’s eyes widened as Uncle Bob replied, “You have excellent taste.”

Forty years later, Mercedes-Benz still symbolizes “excellent taste” for me and millions of other people around the globe. It’s not just about high quality: The Mercedes brand sets a standard of comparison; it’s shorthand for “great experience” and “luxury.”

And that’s why we’re so excited that Stephen Cannon, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, is our lead-off industry speaker at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East next week in New York. Cannon is just perfect as the keynote address for an event with the theme “Good Is Not Good Enough” — because for Mercedes-Benz, just being “good” would be a serious disappointment.

As we approach the event, Stephen was nice enough to answer some of our questions about the Mercedes-Benz customer experience. Check out what he has to say — and I hope we both see you out in the audience next week at the New York Hilton.

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

Read more

Customer Experience Rooms: What Are They? Should Your Company Create One?

In the age of the customer, companies must transform their cultures from product-centric to customer-centric. But that is easier said than done. Customer centricity requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and the roles employees play in delivering the overall experience. Customer experience (CX) rooms — immersive, interactive spaces that help employees better understand customers — have emerged as a powerful new tool for bringing customers and their journeys to life for workforces. Done well, CX rooms inspire empathy and understanding among employees and help build customer-centric cultures.

In my recent report, "Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Rooms," I answered some of the common questions related to creating a CX room to help companies decide if they should build their own CX room.

Why do companies create CX rooms?

Firms create CX rooms to help employees understand the current customer experience their company delivers and to better understand the intended experience the company wants to deliver. The CX room that Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer at Prime Therapeutics, created at a previous employer demonstrated how complicated it was for customers to know which of the company's many phone numbers they should call or which of the firm's many websites they should visit.

How do CX rooms help improve customer centricity?

Read more

Customer Experience Q&A With John Maeda, Design Demigod

Okay, maybe “demigod” is a little over the top. But maybe not.

John Maeda is both design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and chair of the eBay Design Advisory Board, where he collaborates with design leaders across eBay to disseminate design thinking. But that’s just what he’s doing now. He previously served as the president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and before that, he was a professor and head of research at the MIT Media Lab.

Now where I come from (Cambridge, Massachusetts, these days), RISD and the Media Lab are synonymous with innovative thinking. But eBay already changed the way about 145 million people shop — most people would say that’s already pretty innovative. So how do you improve innovation by disseminating design thinking at eBay?

We wanted to hear John’s thoughts on that topic — and others — so we invited him to speak at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, 2014. Attendees can hear him talk on Wednesday, June 25th, at the Hilton New York.

In advance of John’s talk, he was kind enough to answer some of our questions about what he’s been doing and why. I hope you enjoy John’s responses, and I look forward to seeing many of you in New York on June 24th and 25th!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

Read more

You Assumed Wrong: Data Remakes Customer Experiences

As Marshall McLuhan once said, “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.” This has never been truer than now, and we have customer data to thank for it.

While data has always played a role in experience design, the digitization of customer experiences — both online and in physical environments — has greatly expanded the depth and breadth of customer data available. As a result, the way CX pros use data is undergoing a significant change. Rather than be passive recipients of data reports, CX pros are becoming active data miners and explorers.

The effect of this exploration is that CX pros, empowered with data that they now have direct access to, are challenging long-held orthodoxy, assumptions, and conventions. Consider the following:

  • CNN tunes its coverage to consumers' tastes . . . to the displeasure of critics. While critics may heap scorn on CNN for its extended coverage of Malaysia Airline Flight 370, the numbers tell a different story. After crunching the data, CNN concluded that viewers were not tiring of MH370 coverage. In fact, the analysis indicated that viewers wanted more of it. This led CNN to extend the coverage well beyond what CNN producers (and other network producers) intuitively assign to such an event. The call paid off as consumers continued to tune in, helping CNN boost its viewership.
Read more