One of the most common questions I get from CX professionals is this: “How do I get my executives to support the work I’m trying to do?” In 2009, when the CX space was just starting to gain traction at the C-level, I wrote a report on that topic. I pulled that report up earlier this week to share with a colleague and realized that its key takeaways are as true today as they were five years ago.
Taking a page from the Facebook culture, I decided to make this Throwback Thursday and bring the report back into the CX conversation. You can read the full report here, but the key things that stand out to me after all this time are:
You don’t need buy-in; you need action. I think of CX as the “eat healthy and exercise” of the business world. Everyone “buys in” to the idea of treating customers well, at least in public. What they don’t do is change their behavior or encourage change in the people who work for them. CX professionals need to stop asking for buy-in and start asking specific executives to do specific things.
Companies that were founded on customer obsession — like Southwest Airlines, Vanguard, and USAA — derive significant financial benefits as a result. That’s because a customer-obsessed culture helps customer experience professionals deliver high-quality, on-brand, consistent experiences that drive loyalty. Fortunately, even companies that weren’t founded on customer obsession can transform their cultures and see big returns on their efforts. For example:
Tom Feeney, Safelite Autoglass’s chief executive officer (CEO), launched the company’s customer experience transformation in 2008. Since then, the firm has seen NPS, employee engagement, revenue, and profit metrics improve substantially.
Cleveland Clinic embarked on its patient experience transformation in 2009. Since then, it’s seen significant improvements in patient experience ratings, employee engagement scores, and business and operations metrics like number of patients admitted and average wait time to see a doctor.
In response to recent tragedies, many commentators have suggested requiring every police officer to wear a video camera and microphone at all times. Some activists even suggest that these videos be publicly live-streamed for maximum accountability. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, despite some technical, budgetary, and legal hurdles.
Other commentators have pointed out that videos aren’t as objective as people think. They are open to interpretation, and risk inflaming opinions on both sides without solving anything. But that’s not the biggest problem with videos. Their biggest weakness is this:
Videos can’t provide the systematic, standardized, quantifiable feedback that we need to understand people’s own perspectives on their everyday experiences with the police.
That’s why police departments should start acting more like the best companies, and measure their customers’ experiences. There are several key tools for doing this, and one of the most important is a customer experience survey. We all get these surveys – they ask about how well the company met our needs, how easy it was to work with, how we felt during the process, how likely we are to say positive things about it, etc.
Retailers use these surveys, as do investment firms, hotels, nonprofits, and every other organization that wants to understand what its customers think and feel, and uncover the drivers of great experiences. If we can easily rate the people who deliver food, sell cars, and hook up TVs, why can’t we do the same for the people who carry guns, write tickets, and make arrests?
It’s with great pleasure that I announce the agenda for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals in Anaheim, CA, on November 6 & 7. We’re mixing things up this year — new formats for speakers, new hands-on, activity-based workshops in addition to track sessions, and a stellar gallery of guest speakers. And we’ve wrapped all of this up with an overarching theme: “Why Good Is Not Good Enough.”
We picked this theme because our Customer Experience Index (CXi) told us to. Seriously. Check this out: According to the latest CXi, the number of brands scoring in the “very poor” category is down to one out of 175. What’s more, only a handful of brands — 10% — are in the “poor” category. Together, these findings show that as customer experience improvement efforts gained momentum over the past year or so, the number of truly awful experiences declined, dramatically. That’s reassuring. Kudos to all the businesses out there that screw up less!
Now for the sobering news: Only 11% of brands in the CXi made it into the “excellent” category.
What that means of course is that most brands are clustering in the middle of the curve — they’re not awful in the eyes of their customers, but they’re not remarkable either. Translation: A merely good customer experience is no longer good enough if you want to deliver a differentiated experience and reap incremental sales, positive word of mouth, and better customer retention. You’re gonna have to raise your game.
Right before school started last year I bought my son a new Dell laptop, a Windows 8 machine with a touchscreen. He loves it.
Fast forward to a month ago when our family rented a vacation house. My son brought his laptop along so he could play DVDs on it – online gaming was right out because we had purposefully rented a house with no Internet connection so we could unplug from work.
The first time my son tried to log on he found that Windows did not want to accept his password because he was not online. I’m going to skip the lengthy explanation of why this is not supposed to happen, why it happened anyway, all the things we tried to do to fix the problem ourselves, etc. (Maybe they’ll end up in a different post – who knows?)
Suffice it to say that since the laptop was still under warranty, and the problem seemed simple enough, I decide to call Dell. I assumed they’d encountered this situation a million times and could tell me a fix in their sleep. Well, I was wrong. After talking to five different people (could have been four, could have been six, I lost count after a while) I realized that I had made a mistake and hung up on the hold music.
Since I hate to let an interesting customer experience go to waste, though, I’d like to offer some hopefully helpful advice to the Dell customer service people – because, in fact, we do like that machine we bought from them and would love them to be around for our next laptop purchase. With that in mind, here are my top suggestions for the people who tried to help me as well as anyone else who runs a customer service operation.
Recently Dr. James Merlino, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic, sent me a late-stage draft of his new book, “Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way.” I started reading it over the weekend and could barely bring myself to put it down.
If you’re at all like me, you have books you read for your job, and books you read for pleasure: This book ticks both of those boxes. It’s an important work by the leading voice in patient experience. It’s also a gripping personal narrative that changed my perspective on every doctor-patient interaction I’ve had in my life.
Have you ever had a doctor patronize you – dismiss your questions and concerns as if you’re an appointment that needs to be completed as quickly as possible – and not a person? Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience: a doctor who made you feel heard and cared for.
More importantly, have you ever wondered why there’s such a big difference in your patient experience from one physician or nurse to the next? You won’t wonder any more after reading this book. And you’ll also know what can be done to make patient experience consistently better across the entire medical profession.
Last week I blogged a video recap of day one of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East, 2014. I had originally planned that post to cover both days of the forum, which has grown to become Forrester’s largest event in our 30+ year history. But at some point I realized that there was just too much material to cram into a single post.
Which led, inevitably, to this post with my video recap of day two.
If you were also at CX East, here’s a reminder of what happened on that second day. And if you weren’t there, here’s a preview of the types of things you’ll see at our Customer Experience West in Anaheim on 11/6 – 11/7 and our Customer Experience Forum EMEA in London on 11/17 – 11/18.
Rick Parrish, Senior Analyst, Forrester
Rick Parrish kicked off the morning with a major update to our research on the customer experience ecosystem, which we define as: The web of relations among all aspects of a company — including its customers, employees, partners, and operating environment — that determine the quality of the customer experience.
That web of relationships often leads to unintended consequences for both frontline employees and customers. Why? Because back office players take well-intentioned but misguided actions – like what happened with the US federal government in this example from Rick.
Admittedly, going away for two weeks of vacation in July hit my fast forward button. But even so, memories of our Customer Experience Forum East in New York in June are still fresh in my mind.
If you were also at CX East, here’s a reminder of what happened on Day One. And if you weren’t there, here’s a preview of the types of things you’ll see at our Customer Experience West in Anaheim on 11/6 – 11/7, and our Customer Experience Forum EMEA in London on 11/17 – 11/18.
Before the event we surveyed our attendees. That let me open the forum by summarizing their challenge: Although their executives’ high aspirations for customer experience do them credit, their success to date lags far behind their goals.
Megan Burns, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester
Megan showed the surprising findings of a recent study on what drives a customer experience that results in customer loyalty. Guess what? For customers of most industries, emotions matter more – often far more – than whether a brand met their needs or he level of effort needed to get their needs met.
Stephen Cannon, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz, USA
My latest report, "Case Study: How PURE Insurance Built A Customer-Obsessed Business," is a case study of a company using its customer-obsessed business model to stand out in the insurance industry. Since its start in 2006, PURE has grown more than 40% each year and has one of the highest Net Promoter Scores in any industry.
Entering the crowded competitive insurance industry was no easy task. PURE knew it would need to stand out. That’s why the founders decided to go with a member-owned business model (called a Reciprocal Exchange) that would help differentiate the insurer from other insurance companies owned by shareholders. For PURE, owners as members means alignment between business and customer goals. The company deepens and reinforces this commitment in several ways:
Targets a select group of customers. In addition to creating a member-owned business model, the founders of PURE also focused on a market niche with a distinct and attractive profile. The insurer targets responsible high-net-worth customers. For its homeowners insurance policies, for example, the homes of potential policyholders must have a reconstruction cost of at least $1 million. The company selected this segment because high-net-worth customers represented a favorable risk profile. This, coupled with the fact that the niche lacked significant competition, created an opportunity for PURE to offer highly competitive premiums and still be profitable.
In celebration of the season, Best Western Great Britain is sharing a new idea for a summer expedition every day on its blog. Suggestions include taking in a sheep race in Moffat (between Carlisle and Glasgow), sampling some 4,000 cheeses at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich (the largest cheese event in the UK), and catching the first few stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire (who knew the Tour started in Northern England?).
It’s all part of its “hotels with personality” campaign, which aims to celebrate the unique story behind each of the brand’s 276 properties in the UK. In addition to rebranding around this vision, Best Western had to improve its customer experience to live up to its brand promise. But getting support from independent hotel owners and operators to fund its ambitious customer experience strategy wasn’t easy. To win support, the brand had to:
Gradually build credibility. Instead of winning support for the entire strategy at once, Best Western tackled some easy changes first, including redesigning its website and improving its internal communications to make them consistent with the new "hotels with personality" vision. Best Western also ran a TV ad campaign featuring hotel employees highlighting the individuality of each hotel. The result was that its hotel owners and employees felt a renewed sense of pride in Best Western as a brand, not just a logo, and confidence in the customer experience strategy. It certainly didn't hurt that the TV campaign drove a year-on-year sales increase of 30% — the highest increase in Best Western Great Britain's history.