I’m a real sucker for great new tips, techniques, tools, shortcuts, “hacks” and other quick ways of getting better results from our processes and customer experiences.
the truth is that the big wins don’t come from tips or tricks.
come from getting the
fundamentals right. Again and again.
like really understanding your customers (internal and external) so your
products and services are what they need (not just what you think they want).
Fundamentals like having understanding the successful customer outcomes before you ever meet or work with them, so your processes and experiences build credibility and trust quickly.
Fundamentals like follow-up and nurturing your relationships so they are top of the priorities when your customers need to change things.
Fundamentals like being able to “meet” face to face, on the phone, or via a webinar or web page (and by “meet”, I mean help a customer get the best from their experiences and processes, understand their problems, the potential solutions, and decide how to change things to meet ever-changing needs).
Master the fundamentals and the little tips and tricks will improve your results even further.
the fundamentals wrong and all the tips, tricks or clever techniques in the
world won’t hurt.
If you’d like to get my very best training, insights and personal support to
help you align your processes and experiences for all your customers (internal
and external), why not join me for my new ONLINE training program? Click here for more details.
I am proud to officially announce my participation as one of the judges at the “North American Customer Centricity Awards” organised by Arcet Global.
Hosted in Dallas, Texas, this event showcases the best in
customer experience and leadership across North America. Sharing ‘next’
practice, case studies and learning from each other’s success across a wide
range of sectors.
Jeff Bezos encourages us to become Customer Obsessed (see video snippet) however Netflix’s journey to CX Obsession is less well known.
Here is an extract from a great article (link below):
From Gibson Biddle, former VP at Netflix and CPO at Chegg In 2005, as I joined Netflix as VP of Product, I asked Reed Hastings, the CEO, what he hoped his legacy would be. His answer: “Consumer science.” He explained, “Leaders like Steve Jobs have a sense of style and what customers seek, but I don’t. We need consumer science to get there.”
Reed’s aspiration was that the Netflix team would discover what delights customers through the scientific process. Forming hypotheses through existing data, qualitative, and surveys, and then A/B testing these ideas to see what works. His vision was that product leaders at Netflix would develop remarkable consumer insight, fueled by results and learning from thousands of experiments.
During my time at Netflix, and later at my next startup, Chegg, I learned to move from customer focus to customer obsession. In doing so embraced Reed’s notion of consumer science. Here’s how I think about the transition:
The full article here is great testimony to moving away from the soft and fluffy version of Customer Experience. Let’s get more scientific about Customer Experience.
I will be in the room for you every step of the way. Whether you signup for the one or two day option there is a preliminary video and optional signup Zoom meeting. Post-session we schedule an online meet to review progress and answer questions.
How learning by doing with real case studies is central to the Masterclass
With genuine case studies you will apply your own challenges in the session to actually take away not just the HOW but the WHAT you do.
I was deeply honoured by the PEX community at the annual conference in Florida last month and received the Global Community 2018 Award. Needless to say (but I will) this is as much down to you guys and your great transformational work, so I graciously excepted the Award on your behalf. Thank you so much :
Outside-In is a regular theme during most of my keynotes, not least this last week here in Florida. A question asked from the floor related to the 30-second elevator test “can you explain to the CEO what this stuff is, why it is different, and how it reframes the work we do?”. I guess I was about to fudge and say this needs more than 30 seconds, and then remembered my two-slide explanation!
So, for those guys looking for a simple explanation, these two slides will do the job. I have put a bit of narrative in there also.
120+ in Florida at the keynote, 16 January 2018
The old, industrial-age traditional way of doing business. We make products (and services). We look for the market to sell them in. We segment customers by circumstance and pitch our products to those segments. We add variations to the products to better fit certain niche segments. We build back-end systems and digital capabilities in this increasingly complex world. We are rigid, functionally oriented and abhor change.
The new Outside-In customer-centric way. We identify the customers we would like to do business with. We understand their needs (even when they may not know them themselves) and specific Successful Customer Outcomes (SCO’s). We categorise customers by need. We then create the capability to deliver to these categories the SCO’s (both products, people and digital). Progressively we manage new and existing customer expectations to deliver success without exception. We are agile, innovative and attuned to 21st century needs.
Let me know if this works for you.
For the curious, the original slides came from a deck presented as a keynote in Sydney, Australia 3 years ago.
You can access that here: http://bit.ly/SydneyPEX
The once favorite topic for improving business performance was Lean Six Sigma, however, the last two years have seen the ascendancy of Customer Experience (CX) as a focus for top teams. ‘Google trends’ is a good barometer of emerging interests and this graph demonstrates increasing interest in CX (blue) compared with LSS (red).
Curiously the largest interest in industrial age improvement techniques like Lean and Six Sigma is in non-English speaking countries, whereas Customer Experience is strongly represented in North America, UK, Australia and South Africa.
For those using the search term ‘Customer Experience,’ the associated topic list provides additional insight into searchers interests. The % trend reflects the growth year on year with ‘Omnichannel’ and ‘Digital data’ seeing explosive growth.
By way of additional information, a search with Epictions focused on Articles produces these top three pieces in the last three months on the theme of ‘Customer Experience – Omnichannel’.
1. The Future of Car Sales Is Omnichannel (Bain & Co)
The single biggest piece of advice I give to senior executives setting out on the Customer Experience journey is to STOP. Yes seriously, the vast majority of CX efforts are completely misaligned.
CX Efforts Misaligned
Don’t get me wrong the intentions are good. Unfortunately, it goes something like this:
Top Team are listening and decide they need to get with this customer centricity/Outside-In/working backwards thinking.
Senior Management makes noises that the customer is THE thing the business must focus on.
The Executive engage the marketing and sales guys to get with it and start pushing the message.
Functional leaders hear the noise and bluster. They start using the language, whilst thinking this is just more fluff and nonsense. They make the right noises for now but keep their heads down, because they know this will go the same way as so many other ‘strategic initiatives’.
Fundamentally functional heads carry on working with the out of date reward system that promotes sub-optimal industrial age thinking and practice.
The Executive see the usual inertia, results not coming through, apathy and indifference and decide their business isn’t really an Amazon.
Top Team then reverts to just getting better at what we are doing, then when someone in ‘our industry’ proves it we will follow.
Functional leaders breathe a sigh of relief and invest even more in industrial age systems and training. The illusion of doing something, in this case, is actually worse than doing nothing.
The businesses failure is noted by customers who move to those who do understand and deliver Customer Experience success.
The company becomes another footnote in the history books. Talked about at business schools and picked apart because of the failure to get the new Outside-In customer-centric mindset.
Making Customer Experience Successful everywhere all the time
This isn’t rocket science (unless you are NASA of course). Understanding that the structures and ways of working from the industrial age were NEVER designed to be customer-centric. They were established to make things faster by optimizing production lines.
And oh, don’t think because you are not in manufacturing you are OK. It is likely your complete ways of working will be making everything look like production management systems, with talk of leaning out, waste reduction, standardization, efficiency, productivity. Sound familiar?
Understanding this Customer Experience misalignment is fundamental.
I encourage doing three things before re-joining the CX road-march:
Understand how big the gap is between what you are doing and what Successful Customer Outcomes you need to be delivering.
Audit the current key performance indicators.
Are they mostly about outputs?
Usually, the balance will be 80% output metrics (like calls answered, Average Handle Times, Abandoned Rates, Projects completed on time to budget etc.).
Meanwhile, the really important measures that tell you a Successful Customer Outcome is being achieved will only be a small proportion.
What you measure is what you get and no amount of Customer Experience drum banging will work unless those measures of Outcomes become the most important.
Create an awareness of what real CX success is all about.
This isn’t just the stories. It is about the actual things on the ground that need to change. The WHY and the HOW go hand in hand. Often times upskilling a group of key players at all levels to make them Ambassadors for the Customer achieves way more than massive corporate investment in branding and image.
In conclusion, Customer Experience cannot be treated just like another corporate initiative. To achieve success requires a significant shift in mindsets, and when that is achieved the realignment of the Enterprise to Outside-In can really begin.
> Most successful CX companies do these things to lift their game
> Steve Towers shares the winning strategies
> Model your own strategy based on leading CX next practices
This article is a build on terrific feedback from my recent piece ‘5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives’. (You can see that here: bit.ly/CX2017)
George Bernard Shaws observation is pertinent “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”
So with that in mind, let’s move beyond the mistakes and uncover the winning strategies and how best can we implement those insightful approaches?
Based on our recent work and research my report from the CX front line should help you rethink your approach in our collective endeavor to get more scientific about the customer experience.
In the earlier article, we identified five major errors and causes of failure. Let’s review how winning CX companies reframe those into successful strategies.
1. Top teams understand CX success and get out of the way of their people to let them get on with it.
To achieve strategic CX success, it is necessary to understand the limitations imposed by industrial age thinking (getting better at doing the wrong stuff faster, functional specialisms, outdated reward systems) and help the organization migrate to Outside-In thinking and practices. At Zappos, for instance, it is more important to meet the customer (see Zappos hits the road.. http://bit.ly/Zappos2017) and gather insights, and provide input to reshaping the organization. The top team is actually out there “We want to shake the customers hands, give them really big high fives and meet their friends — delivering happiness and memorable experiences along the way,” said Kristin Richmer, Senior Brand Marketing Manager, Zappos.
The task then is not overlaying the new insights onto an industrial age siloed world. It is actually to reshape the organization, its people, the reward systems, processes and systems to better deliver successful customer outcomes. Tony Hsieh reinforces this feed forward approach “we actually want to talk with customers more as 70% of our business are repeat buys. Hiding our contact details and making it difficult to talk is not our way” http://bit.ly/TonyHseih
2. Customer needs are understood and developed to create the organizational alignment towards successful customer outcomes.
Leading CX Companies have developed an a-b-c strategy when boiled down includes
(a) stop asking customers what they want (b) get your head around current customer expectations, and (c) articulate customer needs even when the customer doesn’t know what they are.
This effort is not a ‘one and done’, it is about continual learning and then development of services and products that anticipate customer needs, rather than following the outdated mantra of those organizations seeking more and more (often meaningless) feedback.
And Disney provides a demonstration of this a-b-c approach. Consider this:
Disney World Orlando, is about 43 square miles, about twice the size of Manhattan. 30 million guests per year enjoy 4 theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, the Hollywood Studios, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom.
You can navigate to these parks by car, bus, monorail, boats and a ferry depending on your hotel – and that in itself includes over 20 themed for your delight. Coupled with Disneys new wearable “Magic Bands” (see http://bit.ly/MagicBand) you receive a smooth personalized experience where ever you are.
This collection of entertainment is a dynamic living system focused on successful customer outcomes. With digital real-time feedback, Disney offers an integrated experience built around a co-ordinated set of business and customer outcomes, from the time you think of a trip, to the time you are back home with the kids.
3. Being customer-centric isn’t about projects – it is a state of mind.
A great mistake of many is approaching customer experience as an initiative, something with a clearly defined start and end point. Appreciating CX is a state of mind for the whole company is a major differentiator and allows successful organizations to continually tweak and evolve, rather than live in a permanent state of project stop-start crisis. The guiding principle is, at the heart of CX, change is desirable, welcomed and systematic. It impacts everyone and everything all the time.
4. Successful CX transcends measures and implements a rigorous feedback/feed forward framework.
A recent analysis in the banking industry suggested that more than 85% of the total key performance indicators measured outputs – things that get produced from activities.
Successful CX companies however, have a very different profile and focus, their attention is on measuring outcomes – the result of what is produced. To these companies this is not a semantic distinction, it underpins the total CX strategy. As a result, the measurement systems are simplified, and the focus on results rather than activity moves the dial towards customer centricity so much more quickly. Programs such as Disneys True North set a direction with supporting metrics, and rather than measure everything that moves they focus on the results and outcomes that need to be delivered to achieve successful customer outcomes. In this context, more than 75% of measures are ‘Outcomes’ with less than 25% outputs.
Test this for yourself in the call center. What are your top ten measurements, are they output oriented or outcome based? The former would be things like average handle time, abandon rates, downtime and so on. The latter would be the delivery of customer need, queries completely resolved (not the piece mean partial interim ‘first call resolution’ type things measured with a functional bias).
In summary, CX leaders have fewer measures and the majority are now Outcome-based.
5. CX is both the strategy and the operational objective to overcome needless complexity.
A recent Forrester survey says 81% of CX professionals are mapping experiences from the customers perspective but only 21% are mapping the ecosystem (processes, people, technology). In this context there are two opportunities that successful CX companies exploit:
i. CX can only be successful if you build a complete CX ecosystem map (we call that a CXecomap) which includes cause and effect and connects the people who deliver the customer experience with those people and systems who provide the means for it.
ii. CX Current state crisis. Successful CX companies can clearly articulate the what and how the organization should be doing to deliver great experiences. They do not become mired in the exercise of mapping all the current external and internal processes and systems (which can take years to complete and provides little in the way of direction for what should exist.)
These companies understand the reality that the current structure and systems were never created with excellent CX in mind but were in fact designed around an industrial age, production system based model. Accordingly, next practice is to utilize design principles that envision what should be, and then progressively mature and migrate the organization to that vision.
To conclude CX success doesn’t come from wishful thinking. It is a deliberate and sustained effort to understand and articulate the ever changing customer. To build a new trust with them that goes beyond the platitudes of the past. In the near term it is about becoming more scientific about the customer experience. In the longer term it is a guarantee of business success.
We have codified these CX next practice approaches into the CEMMethod (now version10). You can access that as a resource with others below.
The earlier article can be viewed here: ‘5 Critical Failures of 80% of Customer Experience initiatives’. http://bit.ly/CX2017
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