Category Archives: Experience Innovation

Customer Experience Jenga

customer experience strategyDo we manage customer experience strategy like playing Jenga? (Jenga is the game with a stack of blocks where players take turns to remove one and balance it on top.) The game is supposed to start with a robust foundation, and in the quest to rise to new heights, holes are made to re-allocate resources, weakening the structure until it topples over.

In managing customer experience (CX), new heights are attempted by betting the farm on shiny silver bullets such as Continue reading

Customer-Centricity Goes Beyond Customer Experience Management

customer-centric customer experienceCustomer experience management is necessary, yet insufficient. Traditionally, organizations have managed customer experience with a mindset of how the company is doing, in order to grow revenue. Consequently, surveys tend to ask more about the company than about the buyer, and customer programs typically emphasize excitement and urgency for new purchases and positive word-of-mouth. While attempting to be customer-centric, this mindset is generally centered more on the company's, rather than the buyer's, well-being.

Alternatively, customer experience optimization seeks to Continue reading

B2B Customer Experience Managment: 6 Success Factors for World-Class Performance

This is an edited transcript from my presentation for CustomerThink’s Customer Experience Thought Leader Forum webinar on B2B Customer Experience Management, conducted February 21, 2013.

The Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study has been conducted for three years now. It was established in 2010 with an emphasis on understanding which functional areas were driving customer experience management and the scope of deployment within each company. In 2011, we continued the core set of questions along with an in-depth exploration of B2B voice of the customer practices, and we explored customer experience management success factors seem to be driving business results. And in 2012, we continued with that core set of questions and emphasized success stories of companies’ progress in their customer experience management, as well as showing three-year trends.

CEM Practices in Top-Performing Businesses
First of all, we wanted to identify which companies had the strongest business results. For example, some companies Continue reading

Increasing Customer-Focus in Voice of the Customer for Business Results

customer-focusCustomer-focus in satisfaction/loyalty surveys may be the lynchpin to higher response rates and to linking customer experience management (CEM) to business results as well. "Aren’t surveys already customer-focused?" you may be thinking. Well, whenever you're the recipient of a survey, how often do you feel like the questions are focused on what you care about, versus what the surveying company cares about? And, accordingly, do you feel like the surveying company is really getting the best information from you that they can through their current surveys? For me, the answers to these questions are: not much and no. Let's face it: there's room for improvement in making voice of the customer (VoC) efforts truly customer-focused.

The perennial dilemma for survey designers is finding the balance between asking too much or too little, affecting respondent fatigue and response rate levels. But take a look at your call center logs and other customer-initiated feedback. When customers talk about things they're passionate about, there's essentially no such thing as respondent fatigue or asking too much. The real dilemma at-hand is not so much finding the right survey length, but rather, finding the right customer-focus that opens up customers' passions related to what your products, services, and experiences do for them.

How to Discover Your Customers' Passion Buttons for Your Brand
Contrary to popular belief, doing what everyone else is doing might be the exact wrong thing to do, as described in Continue reading

Business Customer Experience Management Stories Highlighted in 3rd Annual B2B CEM Study

Customer Experience Best PracticesStories of business customer experience management practices and successes are featured in the 3rd Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study. Examples span across voice-of-the-customer, employee engagement in CEM, customer-focused culture, customer experience profitability, and more.

Business CEM stories are rare relative to consumer-focused examples, despite the fact that business customer experience can be much more challenging, with high involvement of numerous influencers of the purchase decision, high stakes purchases with lengthy sales cycles, reciprocal buyer/supplier relationships, and complex touch‐points across functional areas, managerial levels, and products, among other factors unique to B2B environments.

An enterprise customer experience manager at telecom provider Orange, Emilie Smith, said: “In B2B there’s an even bigger argument for CEM linkage to revenue and profitability because often the products and services for businesses are a lot more sophisticated and cost a lot more for the company to provide them. For one account, millions may be at stake.” The head of customer experience at freight provider Maersk Line, Rene Bomholt, said: “Businesses are made up of people, and people have emotions. Close relationships with customers matter a lot.”

Inspiring stories about the progress of business customer experience management can be found throughout the 2012 best practices study, featuring companies such as Ciena, Citrix, LexisNexis, Orange, SunTrust, Symantec, tw telecom, and others in business services, building materials, remarketing, and semiconductor industries.

As the sole global B2B CEM survey, this research provides inspiration to Continue reading

Creativity for Customer Experience Improvement

Open your mind to new ideas for improving customer experience. It’s a fast-paced highly competitive world, so continual improvement — and occasional breakthroughs — are imperatives for consistently delivering superior customer experience.

Every person has creative capability. “There’s this common perception among managers that some people are creative, and most aren’t. That’s just not true,” says Teresa Amabile, head of Entrepreneurial Management at Harvard Business School. “As a leader, you don’t want to ghettoize creativity; you want everyone in your organization producing novel and useful ideas, including your financial people. The fact is, almost all of the research in this field shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work.”

Fool around with the vast Continue reading

10 Tips for Customer Experience Innovation

Every person in an organization is needed for customer experience innovation. That’s because customer expectations and competitive offerings are always on the rise. Your processes, policies, skills, and motivations have a lot to do with keeping customers coming back — and even more to do with customers deciding not to come back.

Think of your own situation as a customer — whenever you’ve decided not to go back to a certain product or service or place, it was usually because you were turned off by a process, policy, skill, or motivation, right?

For example, at Procter & Gamble — the company that Continue reading

Improve Customer Experience: Help Me Help You

You’ve heard of garbage-in, garbage out, right? It’s amazing how often work teams put up with substandard inputs “thrown over the fence” from groups they rely on for information or materials to do their work. Faulty inputs lead to imperfect outputs and inconsistent customer experience.

Everything that external customers receive is the result of business processes. Interestingly, many customer experience management efforts are focused only on the front-line employees and customer touch-points. However, every business process is typically deployed by several departments or a sub-process of a bigger process that delivers value to external customers.

In other words, a business process involves a value chain of internal suppliers and internal customers. Help your internal suppliers help you deliver better customer experiences — analyze your business processes and proactively communicate with your internal suppliers.

Timeliness and quality of handoffs throughout this internal value chain snowball exponentially toward revenue-generating customers — for better or worse. The key is to work backwards from Continue reading

Compass for Better Customer Experience

SellersCompassTM Copyright 2012 NBS Consulting Group, Inc. All rights reserved.In everyday life a compass (also known as GPS or global positioning system or map) may be integrated in nearly everything you do – whether you’re driving, flying or hiking. Imagine such a tool for Marketing, Sales and Customer Care for collectively navigating the journey of prospective buyers and customers across the entire customer life cycle. A step further than the typical customer touch-point map or customer journey map, this type of compass would clarify roles and collaboration to align your company with what’s needed for a great customer experience that results in higher revenue and customer retention with lower costs of marketing, sales and customer care. At a recent customer management conference I heard Christine Crandell, CEO of New Business Strategies, explain her Sellers’ CompassTM methodology, and learned some much-needed new perspectives on ways that Marketing, Sales and Customer Care can improve the customer experience.

Where Does the Customer Experience Begin?
Consider the new reality of the buyer’s process (pre-sales and post-sales): with all the online and peer resources available today buyers often have already completed their Define, Search and Evaluate phases prior to your Marketing and Sales radar registering an official touch-point. This fact is a weakness Continue reading

8 Paths to Value via Benchmarking Studies

Customer Experience BenchmarkGetting ahead in differentiating your business is an ongoing quest. Benchmarking studies can be a great tool to monitor and maintain your edge — if you know how to maximize your value from them. Here are 8 paths to gaining value from best practices studies:

1) Participate! By investing a portion of an hour to answer the study questions you’ll likely pick up an idea or two for tweaking your perspective or approach for greater success. Every study has its own theme, so there’s always potential for picking up something new from each one. (Even if you’re on the agency side and may not qualify for a certain study, encourage your clients to participate — they’re less likely to be complacent as a result, and complacency is not a great thing for an agency.) What else only takes 15-30 minutes and gives you a possible new model, big-picture view, and/or tickler for taking your programs to the next level?

2) Accept the offer — whether it’s a donation to charity or a free copy of the report or something else, enjoy the token of appreciation. A complimentary report typically saves hundreds of dollars in your budget. Conducting your own Continue reading

Customer Value Creation Essentials

Value creation is perhaps the single most important aspect of any executive’s job. As such, crystal clarity on what it is and how it’s done should certainly be top of mind. Shareholder value is fueled by customer value; shareholders leave when customers leave, not the other way around. Customer value is an ambiguous term, as it can be used either from the company’s or the customer’s perspective. Few companies know the lifetime value of their customers, or collective customer equity, and more importantly, fewer still know how much customers value their brand, and why.

Why care about how much customers value your brand? Because the customer view of the company’s value is a predictor of market share and shareholder value. Vodafone’s Graham Maher, Managing Director, says “The Customer Value Management (CVM) score is a leading indicator of Vodafone’s market share. We were able to predict market share a quarter out using CVM data, to within 1% accuracy! In fact, the Finance Director said the CVM score is more robust than any of our financial Continue reading

10 Customer Experience Characteristics

Customer satisfaction as a business concept has been around for more than 20 years — but customer experience management (CEM) has only been discussed over the past several years. So it’s no wonder that CEM is often equated with earlier concepts. The articles listed below can be instrumental in clarifying customer experience as a unique set of truths, essential for business success with 21st century customers.

1. Perspective: customer experience is defined entirely by the customer, not the solution provider.

ROI Opportunities in B2B Customer Experience Management

Business Customer ExperienceInvestment in customer experience management has increased or remained stable since 2005 for 88% of business-to-business companies, according to the 2010 ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Benchmarking Study. As the first global B2B analysis of best practices in customer experience management (CEM), this study provides insights on the growing role of customer experience in corporations. Four out of five B2B firms assign overall responsibility for customer experience initiatives to a vice president or director-level executive, and one in five companies treats customer experience inputs as a determinant of corporate strategy.

The study equally represents both large (more than 10,000 employees) and medium-sized companies (between 1,000 and 10,000 employees) headquartered in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Industries represented include equipment, financial services, insurance, legal, medical, manufacturing, publishing, telecommunications, technology, and transportation. Half of the participants have been in a CEM job role for at least five years.

Goal Achievement
Three out of four participating companies say their customer satisfaction scores meet or exceed their goals; net promoter scores meet or exceed the goals of 54% of firms. A third of B2B firms say their goals are being met for market share, referral rates, differentiation, and loyalty, and half of the respondents say it’s too early to determine CEM’s impact on these goals.

Under-Utilized Role
The potential power of CEM is under-utilized: although more than half of company executives say that CEM is a competitive differentiator, only 24% use CEM as an influencer of major business decisions, and 20% treat CEM as a formal business process.

Narrow Implementation
Generally, CEM is focused on Continue reading

Improve Customer Experience by Eliminating Customer-Focus Boundaries

‘Customer-focus is important for certain job roles, but for other roles, we rely on our own wisdom.’ This is poisonous thinking when some parts of your company are excused from customer-focus.

When anyone in your organization is disconnected from customers, their decision-making may in fact interfere with your company’s customer centricity and ability to maximize value to and from customers. Certainly, customers aren’t expected to have the wisdom required to run your company — but the point is, that your wisdom in all areas should be guided by customers’ values and concerns. Like a set of dominoes, what happens in one part of the company has a ripple effect on customer-facing employees, and possibly on customers as well. Every group in your enterprise can benefit from understanding their own role in improving or hindering the customer experience.

How can every part of your organization get involved in customer experience management?

Idea #1: Relevant Customer Data Streams: Continue reading

Customer Experience Social Media Conversations

Social media contains a wealth of information about the customer experience, and savvy managers are paying attention. In my interview with Sean McDonald, fomer director of Dell’s online community, he points out that the social Web is full of customer comments, and engaging customers in conversations enables opportunities for:
– Building brand reputation: turn negative sentiment into positive word-of-mouth.
– Customer service: delight and retain customers for additional growth.
– Competitor analysis: see how they are viewed by customers.
– Sales leads: find customers who are researching your brand category.
– Employee engagement: channel relevant data to all functional areas.
– New product development: augment focus groups with private community inputs.

Transition to Conversations
“Typically customer conversations occur on a need-only basis, which is unfortunate,” he says. “Companies are aligned by departments to facilitate the ease of their production: Finance keeps the books, HR manages people policies, etc. — and most departments are inward facing. Customers’ conversations used to be at barbecues, around water coolers, and in back halls. The social Web has unleashed a billion users with an appetite to share and learn from people like themselves.The Web has become more social and given literally everyone a voice.”

“Companies can engage in conversations both online and offline about customers’ passions and interests to build Continue reading

4 Customer Centric Culture Building Blocks

Customer CentricIt’s popular to tout customer-centricity, yet it’s very difficult to consistently demonstrate. The word centric means having a specific thing as the focus of attention and efforts. Customer-centric means that concerns other than the customer’s well-being are in the background while the customer stays in the foreground.

That may seem simple enough, yet reality proves the elusiveness of customer-centricity. In Accenture’s Delivering the Promise study, 75% of executives viewed their customer service as above-average, while 59% of their customers reported their experience with these companies’ service as somewhat to extremely dissatisfying. Likewise, in CMO Council’s Customer Affinity study, half the companies said they are extremely customer-centric, but only a tenth of their customers agreed.

The building blocks of customer-centric culture are Continue reading

Customer-Centricity by Discerning Customer Satisfaction Outcomes vs. Enablers

What’s the difference between the way customers volunteer feedback versus the way they’re requested to give feedback? One revolves around outcomes in the customer’s world, whereas the other revolves around customer satisfaction enablers in the company’s world. True customer-centricity requires primary focus and decision motivations be centered on the customer’s world, rather than the company’s.

What Are “Outcomes” in the Customer’s World?
The concept of customers’ desired outcomes throughout the customer experience originated in innovation literature when Clayton Christensen wrote his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, explaining that customers “hire” a product or service to get something done for them. When we understand the circumstances motivating the customer to hire a product or service, then we gain insight into the customer’s jobs-to-be-done.

A great way to identify customers’ desired outcomes throughout the customer experience is to Continue reading

What’s Your Customer Experience Value Quotient?

Customer ValueIf value is defined as benefits versus costs, what’s your company's customer experience value ratio? Superior value is the objective of customers and marketers alike. And since customers hold the purse strings, marketers are compelled to view value as customers do. In the customer experience value ratio, the numerator includes product and service value, as well as image and personal value. We may often overlook or be unaware of some of the cost dimensions in the denominator: money … plus time, energy and psychic costs.

In managing customer experience, the challenge is not only to maximize the numerator, but also to minimize the denominator. Touch-point analysis can be very helpful, but make sure Continue reading

New Rules of the Game for Successful Innovation

customer experience innovationA new understanding of innovation success factors is making traditional logic obsolete. Successful innovation has less to do with the best investment, technology, research and designers, according to Booz Allen Hamilton: “Unless their R&D efforts are driven by a thorough understanding of what their customers want, their performance may well fall short — at least compared to that of their more customer-driven competitors.”1

A thorough understanding of what customers want is based on desired outcomes rather than features and reactions to concepts and prototypes. From the customer’s viewpoint, the solution that your firm sells is a means-to-an-end. It’s simply a tool meant to Continue reading

Measure Customer Value the Customer’s Way

Customers automatically use 50 or more metrics for any customer experience, according to author Anthony Ulwick, in his book What Customers Want. We may be re-inventing the wheel as we strive to come up with customer metrics that spell success. Looking at things from the customer viewpoint we've got to admit that customers really do know what outcomes they want.

"It's easy to portray customers as emotional, illogical individuals who are incapable of knowing or communicating what they want", says Ulwick. "This is a convenient way to avoid taking actions that are inconsistent with one's own thinking, intuition and personal motivations." Despite financial pressures to take our focus off direct inputs from customers, it’s essential to avoid Continue reading