Over the weekend, I read the manuscript for Don Peppers' upcoming book, Customer Experience: What, How, and Why Now.
Because Don is a talented writer, and because I love customer experience, it wasn’t hard for me to start reading it. It was, however, hard to stop reading it. If you’re also into customer experience, you’ll no doubt have a similar reaction when it comes out.
What I like most about the book is that Peppers consistently grounds customer experience in business fundamentals. For example, he points out that the decision to focus on customer experience should never be binary: You don’t have to be customer-centric or product-centric, nor does spending to deliver a better CX mean wasting money. The reality is that focusing on customer experience can lead to new and better products and help create an even more profitable business — provided that you understand it.
Of course, learning to understand the practical aspects of customer experience can be hard work — much like attending a particularly tough business class. But that’s not the case here. Peppers makes the nuts and bolts of customer experience engaging and even visceral. To see what I mean, check out two of my favorite quotes from the book:
"If you think about it, a customer is really just a bundle of future cash flows, with a memory. And these future cash flows will increase or decrease based on how the customer remembers being treated, today."
“Customers don’t necessarily stay because they’re satisfied, but they often leave because they’re not.”
Expectation Maps Are A Smart Way To Visualize Customer Journey Emotion
Talking to clients, it’s interesting to see and hear how the topic of “customer needs” still comes up as frequently as the sun comes out in Singapore. In a day and age when customer “needs” such as food, clothing, and human interaction are largely met, it makes sense for CX professionals to shift focus toward dynamically changing and ever-evolving expectations of what a quality experience should feel like.
When making a purchase online, for example, the “need” is for the item to get to the address provided in the time stated — that’s a given. It gets emotional when there’s a disconnect between the picture of the product purchased and the actual item received. Wildly exceeding or failing to meet expectations elicits emotional reactions that shape customer perceptions of the quality of a given experience.
Culture and language also have a very powerful influence on customer expectations, and companies need to be mindful of this when going after customers outside of their home markets and localize those experiences appropriately.
My latest report, part two in a three-part series on tools CX pros can use to customize customer experiences in markets they operate in overseas, explores expectation mapping as a tool to capture diverse emotional elements to augment your existing customer journey work.
It’s been a rough nine months for federal cybersecurity. The huge Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack is just the latest in a series of incidents that make people skeptical of Washington’s ability to protect their personal information. Since last fall, we’ve witnessed hacks of the:
OPM. Last week’s cybersecurity failure at OPM wasn’t its first run-in with hackers. In March 2014, hackers broke into OPM networks in an attempt to exfiltrate information about security clearances. Federal authorities claimed to have blocked the hackers from the network, but last week’s OPM cybersecurity failure should make us skeptical.
Government Publication Office and Government Accountability Office. These two offices got hacked at the same time as OPM last year.
US Postal Service. On November 10, 2014, the USPS confirmed an intrusion into its network that resulted in the compromise of the data of more than 800,000 employees.
State Department. On November 17, 2014, the State Department said that its unclassified email systems had been compromised a month earlier. Three months after the initial intrusion, the State Department was still unable to eradicate the effects of the attack.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On November 12, 2014, NOAA confirmed that hackers had breached four of its websites.
President of the United States. The same attackers that breached the State Department in November 2014 compromised the White House's unclassified email system about a month later and gained access to President Obama’s email.
Panera, the fast-casual restaurant chain, is completely transforming itself — from its back-office systems right down to the menu items. There are new services — including catering and table service — and there’s even a new kind of staff member, known as an “expo,” to double-check the accuracy of the firm’s new customizable orders and establish a little more rapport with visitors. At Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals, June 16th and 17th in NYC, Blaine Hurst, chief transformation officer at Panera, will be sharing lessons learned from this massive innovation initiative. Here are some comments Blaine made during a recent conversation I had with him. I hope you enjoy them, and I look forward to seeing you in NYC!
Q: I don’t meet chief transformation officers too often. How would you describe your role?
A: When I came onboard with Panera, it was to envision and launch what we’ve come to call Panera 2.0 — a truly enhanced guest experience, powered by technology and enabled by ops excellence. If you look at the way we approached 2.0, you start to understand the role of a chief transformation officer. We looked for the ways that technology could transform the guest experience versus focusing on the latest gadgets for the sake of being “first” or “cutting edge.” I use the same lens in my role as chief transformation and growth officer. How can Panera win by applying technology or innovative thinking to truly transform and grow? In my role, I oversee business processes ranging from digital strategy to catering and delivery.
A few weeks ago, I advised federal agencies to build better digital customer experiences. I had no idea how polarizing the post would be, so I’d like to return to the topic of digital customer experience (CX) again this week.
Even the US Digital Service (USDS) thinks federal agencies need better digital CX. Last year, the USDS published a US Digital Services Playbook, a series of 13 plays to help federal CIOs create better digital customer experiences. (The playbook would work equally for agencies’ digital services teams, if they ever get funded.)
Notably, the Playbook doesn’t open with CIO staples like cloud services or automated testing or procurement. It starts with four CX plays that remind federal CIOs to begin every project with an outside-in customer-centric perspective.
These four CX plays are good advice. Federal CIOs who follow them will produce measurably better CX. That's because these guidelines, which are drawn from basic but proven best practices, correctly advise CIOs to:
"Understand what people need." Play No. 1 challenges CIOs to think from the outside in by putting "the needs of people" before the "constraints of government structures or silos" when designing new experiences. This guidance provides federal CIOs with the mandate they need to push back against rigid organizations and complex regulations that paralyze CX improvement efforts.
At Forrester’s Forum For Technology Leaders in Lisbon (June 2-3), Marcello V. Ronco, Senior Vice President and Head of Core Banking Production Line of UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions (UBIS), will be speaking about the bank's BT transformation journey and, in particular, its mobile banking initiative. Marcello is co-leading with Marketing Directors within the organization the restructuring of UniCredit Retail in Italy, Germany and Austria, to realize the company's ambition to become a truly digital omni-channel bank. In his session, Marcello will explain how to change a traditional IT department so that it is set up to support a modern multichannel bank, and why IT plays a strategic role to ensure the right level of customer service through mobile banking.
As I prepared for my role as Forum Chair, I spoke to Marcello about his views on the age of the customer and the impact it has on financial services organizations such as UniCredit. Here is what Marcello shared with me, and I hope you will enjoy his answers as much as I did.
Q: How is the age of the customer impacting your industry (financial services) and the solutions provided by UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions?
Mark McCormick, newly in the position of head of user experience for wholesale Internet services at Wells Fargo, has led customer experience teams for 20 years, the past 12 of which have been at Wells Fargo. He specializes in managing large research, design, and content strategy teams and driving cultural values and practices around customer centricity, innovation, and, lately, simplicity. We sat down to talk more about simplicity leading up to Mark’s keynote at CXNYC 2015.
Q: You’ll be speaking about ethnographic research at the CXNYC 2015 Forum. Could you give us some background on the role of research at Wells Fargo, particularly as it relates to design?
A: Ethnography is an enabler to design and decision-making. Design and research have always gone hand in glove at Wells Fargo, usually reporting to the same manager and working in tandem on projects. But when I talk about research, I’m referring to a few different kinds of research. In the case of usability, there needs to be a bit of a wall between the designers and research in order to maintain the objectivity that’s needed. With ethnography on the other hand, ideally you would have designers, executives, and product teams all in the field, side by side with researchers. With that kind of research, and with the rich qualitative data that comes out of it, it is extremely fruitful if you get designers and researchers parsing the data together. Then everyone has a stake in it, and if they have a stake in the data, they end up using it.
By now we all know that federal customer experience (CX) is disastrously weak and that improving it will boost both agency operations and the health of the political system.
We’ve also seen some pockets of hope popping up, as I predicted a few months ago. For instance: The Department of Education’s new portal is complete, the Department of Veterans Affairs My HealtheVet site now offers online tracking for mail-order prescriptions, and BusinessUSA.gov combines thousands of pieces of information from several federal agencies into a single site for entrepreneurs and business owners. Other improvements are still in the works, like 18F's upgrade of the Department of the Treasury's My Retirement Account website and the Office of Personnel Management Innovation Lab's redesign of USAJobs.gov.
These isolated projects are good, but not good enough. It’s time for federal agencies to get beyond one-off tech tasks and the find-and-fix mentality to truly institutionalize CX improvement throughout their organizations. And that means treating CX not as a sideshow, but as a real business discipline. To do this, agencies must systematically perform the practices associated with all six CX disciplines — strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance, and culture. Right now, federal agencies are failing in all of these areas.
On just about anyone’s shortlist of companies that deliver unique, high-quality experiences, you’ll be sure to find Virgin. And this year, the iconic brand opened its first hotel in the US — a 250-room property located in the Chicago Loop. How does Virgin Hotel live up to the high standards set by other Virgin businesses? At Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York, June 16th and 17th, Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotel Group, will explain. In the meantime, he shared with us a few thoughts about CX, the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to work for a knight. Enjoy! And I look forward to seeing you in NYC . . .
Q: In your industry, switching costs are pretty low. Indeed, one of the things that impresses me about the first Virgin Hotel in Chicago is how reasonably priced the rooms are! Is that why CX is so important to Virgin?