Alternative Measures To Improving Customer Service

A recent Harvard Business Review article, Revolutionising Customer Service, has articulated four recommendations aimed at doing things differently, or in other words, doing the opposite to “conventional wisdom”. The summary is as follows:

Don’t start with customer facing employees…

After all, customer service reps usually understand the importance of satisfied customers; often the real problem lies with logistics, IT, or some other back-end function that isn’t meeting frontline colleagues’ needs…So include everyone in service training, and focus special attention on internal service providers.

Don’t focus training on specific skills or scripts…

Educate employees more generally about what “service excellence” means…highly scripted employees are often less able to be imaginative or empathetic about a customer’s true needs. A better approach is to persuade employees to commit to a holistic definition of service: creating value for others, outside and within the organization. Teach them to first appreciate customers’ concerns and only then to take action.

Don’t pilot changes…

Conventional wisdom calls for limited experiments that, if successful, are later rolled out more broadly. That can work for small tweaks, but for more-sweeping reforms, firms must create momentum fast and set their sights high.

Don’t track traditional metrics…

Instead of worrying about typical customer satisfaction measures such as share of wallet and net promoter scores, organizations should look at the number of new value-adding service ideas put into practice.

Read the full article here.

IAG and Design Thinking

Check out how IAG are embedding Design Thinking within their organisation.

Innovation at Nordstrom

Nordstrom is a recognised leader in Customer Service and the Nordstrom Innovation Lab is an example of why.

Check it out here…

and for a more detailed look…

 

Big Corporates Becoming ‘Customer Centric’?

A recent article on CMO, recently articulated what one big Australian Corporate, AMP, is doing to become customer centric.

he company kicked off the journey in 2013, appointing its first chief customer officer, Paul Sainsbury, as well as a dedicated customer relations team.

On AMP’s list of ongoing strategic priorities is building a customer goals-oriented enterprise.

The initiatives completed or underway include:

  1. Building a next-generation, face-to-face advice model based on customer goals.
  2. Automating several back-end processes.
  3. New infrastructure has also been put in place for better omni-channel experience, including a new customer and data analytics systems, and customer interactions engine.
  4. These are tied into a new-look digital portal, which includes and integrated banking and wealth platform, mobile and tablet apps, new website and content management systems.
  5. Deploying a customer feedback and measurement system across 122 teams.
  6. Establishing organisational capabilities in human-centred design and behavioural economics.

The last one is or particular interest. Organisations that understand that the customer experience is indeed a human centred experience – i.e. to be customer centric is to be human centric – are starting to build internal capabilities in human-centred design.

You can read the full post here.

Big Data does not have all the answers

An insightful article by Martin Lindstrom, on why everything we learn about customers from analysing (Big) data is, well, not everything.

Martin uses the example of LEGO, and the numerous ‘big data’ studies LEGO commissioned that saw the company veer off course.

Every big data study LEGO commissioned drew the exact same conclusions: future generations would lose interest in LEGO. LEGOs would go the way of jackstraws, stickball, blindman’s bluff. So-called Digital Natives – men and women born after 1980, who’d come of age in the Information Era – lacked the time, and the patience, for LEGOs, and would quickly run out of ideas and storylines to build around.

And the ethnographic study which helped bring LEGO back.

At that moment, it all came together for the LEGO team. Those theories about time compression and instant gratification? They seemed to be off base. Inspired by what an 11-year-old German boy had told them about an old pair of Adidas sneakers, the team realized that children attain social currency among their peers by playing and achieving a high level of mastery at their chosen skill, whatever that skill happens to be.

Martin sights many other examples, including this one regarding Google’s self driving cars.

According to the New York Times, last year as one of Google’s new cars approached a crosswalk, it did as it was supposed to and came to a complete stop. The pedestrian in front crossed the street safely, at which point the Google car was rammed from behind by a second non-Google automobile. Later, another self-driving Google car found that it wasn’t able to advance through a four-way stop, as its sensors were calibrated to wait for other drivers to make a complete stop, as opposed to inching continuously forward, which most did. Noted theTimes,  “Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book.

Martin summaries…

As accurate, then, as big data can be while connecting millions of data points to generate correlations, big data is often compromised whenever humans act like, well, humans.

You can read the full post here.

Three P’s of a Customer’s Experience

The folks at Disney Institute remind us that exceptional customer service or more accurately the customer experience, is more than just great customer service delivered by people.

In fact, exceptional service derives from the intersection of process, place and people.

  1. Processes that underpin the Moments of Truth that customers experience,
  2. Place is the environment that contributes to that experience; and
  3. People who deliver the human interaction that adds warmth to the experience.

Read the full post here.

The Wood for the Trees?

With all the material that is generated in respect to being Customer Centric, or Outside In, or Customer Experience Management, etc, it is easy to forget what matters most.

Christopher Frawley reminds us in no uncertain terms, that there is nothing more important than caring for your customers.

It’s impossible to have customers care for you if they don’t feel you care for them.  Your care for them is mandatory; their care for you is optional.

“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” ~ Unknown

You might think of care as the master control knob on the experience.  “The one knob to rule them all.”  Honestly the whole thing begins and ends with care.

You can read the full post here.

Practical Tips for Digital Innovation

Nadia Cameron of CMO, covered a speech by Cameron Gough, Australia Post’s general manager, Digital Delivery Centre, speaking at the Melbourne leg of the CMO, CIO and ADMA Executive Connections event last week.

Gough gave some great practical insights into how a large organisation can foster innovation within and the fact he has grown the Digital Delivery Centre at Australia post from “a team of 12 to more than 350, including 250 engineers and 100 customer experience and user experience professionals” in three-and-a-half years, is testament to his success.

The three key areas Gough focused on was:

  1. automating processes and activities
  2. the environment on which the teams work
  3. culture

automating processes and activities

What we found at the start was that it was taking us 50 days to follow all the processes and steps to get a change out in front of customers,” he told attendees. “One of the major hurdles was the time it took to get into test environments. We invested heavily in the last couple of years in automation and we’re now able to get an amount of code all through those steps in about eight minutes and out into production. So we went from 250 deployments in our first year, to 250,000 in the last year.

What it does is allow you to start experimenting and prototyping in a way we could never do before. Our bravery to just get something out is going up, because the cost of getting something wrong is very low, as is the cost of fixing it. So the way you work is the first thing.”

the environment on which the teams work (example funding model)

If the governance bodies are asking questions such as: What am I going to get, how much is it going to cost, how long is it going to take, and how soon can we get the benefits, very little goodness is going to come out of that and you’re almost guaranteed not to surprise them on the upside and probably disappoint on the downside,” Gough claimed. Instead, Australia Post’s digital team has gained support for an alternative investment model it calls ‘capacity funded investment’.

What we say is that we don’t exactly know what we’re going to do, but we know there is an opportunity to do something,” Gough explained. “It might be in the mobile space or identity, for instance. What we’ll say is we want to dedicate a certain percentage of capacity to this problem. The questions the governance community then ask is what do we expect to learn, when will we know what we’re learning, and when will they hear back. It’s a very supportive model.

We still have traditional projects, but we have far more of our work being done this way and 95 per cent of my team are working under this capacity funded model. Detaching this strict connection between the funding source and what it’s for, and what you actually deliver, is really important, Gough said.

We have tried to move away from highly defined business cases that state this is exactly what you’ll get, as teams feel very constricted by that, to business cases that are more outcomes,” he continued. For example, we wanted to shift the needle on people receiving parcels when they’re not at home. It’s a simple, high-level target that you then give to the team, along with funding, to get going. They then feel less constrained and feel more able to experiment and innovate.

culture

We have invested heavily in training our people and bringing in leaders that are innovative thinkers, are very inquisitive, to create and support this learning culture we need for this environment,” he said. “Once we have built this way of working, we are in a much better place to support innovation.

Today, Australia Post’s list of activities to foster innovation is extensive. One ongoing initiative is regular hackathons, and the organisation has held 12 to date.

In addition, Australia Post has launched an ‘intrepreneurs’ program to help ensure ideas and creativity within the organisation has an avenue for discovery and advancement. Run every three months, the program sees teams present their ideas to executives for consideration. The best are given up to $100,000 and six weeks to invest and build.

You can read the full article here.

Hearts, then Charts

A few months ago US based consultancy, Be Almighty, released a whitepaper entitled Hearts, then Charts. Its focus is on executing Customer Centricity.

The ‘age of the customer’ was to usher in a new era of organizational focus on the customer experience. Yet neither that focus nor the resulting prosperity has come to bear.

Bain’s legendary 2005 study, Closing the Delivery Gap2, famously found that 80% of firms believe they delivered a ‘super experience’ to their customers, while the same was reported by only 8% of their customers

Ten years later, we managed a custom survey of more than 500 stakeholders at large enterprise organizations. We audited customer experience practices at 30 more. The resulting data suggests that the narrative of customer-centricity doesn’t match the practice.

Notable findings of Be Almighty’s research included:

  • Fewer than 10% of the companies we audited use a consistent definition of their customers across the organization.
  • Fewer than 5% regularly use a map of their customer’s experience to drive organizational decisions and investment.
  • Our assumptions around what our customers need from us frequently begin with what we already have to offer them.
  • Almost half of C-Suite respondents to our survey said that their company uses no consistent measure of the customer experience.
  • Fewer than 3% of the businesses we audited had employees who could consistently cite the person responsible for their organization’s customer experience.

The whitepaper goes on to focus on five themes:

  1. Seeing our customers not as we are, but as they are
  2. Plotting a comprehensive view of customer experiences that are, increasingly, outside of our control
  3. Developing a multi-dimensional view of customer needs.
  4. Defining meaningful measures for the quality of our interactions
  5. Creating executive accountability for the decisions that shape our customer experiences

You can download the whitepaper here.

A Remarkable Experience

Customer Experience blogger, Annette Franz, recently commented on the common mistake of the ‘herd’ following the leaders of customer experience instead of forging their own paths.

Franz sites the following research…

A few years ago, researchers at Leeds University did some research on herd mentality. Here’s how AdSavvy reports it:

Researchers at Leeds University, led by Prof Jens Krause, performed a series of experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two people who appear to know where they’re going.  

The published results showed that it only takes 5% of what the scientists called “informed individuals” to influence the direction of a crowd of around 200 people. The remaining 95% follow without even realizing it.

95% will follow the 5%!

But rightly points out…

The problem with herd mentality is that we think we know what success looks like because we base it on the industry leaders – because they must be doing something right to be leading the pack. But just because it works for one doesn’t mean it works for others. Just because the Zappos culture and business model work for Zappos doesn’t mean they will work for others.

Franz goes on to suggest…

Not all experiences are created equal. When you design your customer experience strategy, good guidelines to live by include:

  1. Define and communicate your brand promise
  2. Develop a culture that fits your brand and what you stand for
  3. Understand your customers: who are they? what do they buy? what problems are they trying to solve? why do or don’t they buy?
  4. Define yourmoments of truth: think about your customer experience lifecycle and your various touchpoints and interactions
  5. Map your customers’ journeys
  6. Understand the marketplace: yes, be aware of competitors and what they’re doing, but don’t imitate
  7. Listen to your customers and prospects
  8. Define your customer experience: innovate, get creative, add value to the marketplace
  9. Hire the right employees for your brand experience
  10. Know yourvision: stick to it
  11. Know yourpurpose: stick to it
  12. Know your value proposition: stick to it

For another view, take Disney, who “believe service is manifested everywhere your organization touches the customer; therefore, you must intentionally manage the service experience beyond the obvious customer touchpoints.

Before a Guest enters one of our parks, they will have already encountered a variety of touchpoints (defined broadly as any medium that engages with the customer). Once inside a Disney Park, a touchpoint can be anything from a personal interaction with one of our Cast Members, to functional items such as a park map or directional signage, to the specific architecture and background music used to create the setting.

Where possible, our goal is to turn what might be an ordinary transaction into a more memorable, immersive experience—for example, when we “plus up” an attraction’s queue area to create an engaging experience for our Guests while they wait.

In summary…

Take a look around your organization and try to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Are there some not-so-obvious touchpoints that could be “plussed” up? Implementing even small changes can impact your customers in a positive way, and can combine to make a solid investment towards creating your own unique customer experience and differentiating your brand.

Read Annettee Franz’s full post here.

Read the full Disney Institute post here.

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