Categories

May 2018
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Joseph's Blog

5 Things You Absolutely Must Do To be Customer-Centric

 

customer experience

This is the second in a two-part blog series.  If you missed my perspective on 5 Things You Should Not Do in the Name of Customer Experience please check that out here

This week we are flipping our conversation to discuss five things you absolutely must do to be customer-centric. Let’s get straight to it:

Embrace Customer Centricity as a Way of Being

Before I go too far with this point, I will refer back to a distinction I discussed in a prior blog concerning customer centricity and customer experience. While I positioned customer centricity as strategic and customer experience elevation as tactical in that post, I truly believe that customer centricity goes beyond strategy.

For me customer centricity is a way of thinking, differentiating, and being. At its core, being customer-centric means that any profit made at the expense of a customer is bad profit. Further, customer centricity is a business philosophy that suggests we are in business to create customer value. It is only through that value that all other stakeholders stand to profit.

Prove Your Customer Centricity in Your Customer Experience

In 1710, philosopher George Berkeley posed a metaphysical question that was the forerunner to, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” I will paraphrase that question and pose it in the affirmative. If you proclaim a commitment to be customer-centric and you don’t hear your customers acknowledging that commitment in the way they experience your brand, then you never were customer-centric.

Fulfill, Make It Easy, and Connect

Forrester has shown sustained revenue growth for companies that drive three things in the customer experience:

a.) Customer Need Fulfillment

b.) Reduced Customer Effort

c.) Positive Emotional Connection with Customers

Define Your Desired Connection

Over the years, I’ve developed a tool (Way We Serve Statement) to help my clients define the specific emotional connection or feeling state they want to provide for every customer, every time, everywhere their customers experience the brand. This statement defines the true north connection across every contact opportunity with a customer.

Overcommunicate and Change Manage the Journey

I once had a leader share that he had told staff “at a meeting a couple of years ago” what he wanted his customer experience to be but that his staff members “weren’t making it happen.” Alas, a desired or optimized customer experience is not a top-down telling activity. It is a collaborative, co-created, enterprise-wide pursuit that can’t be microwaved into existence! The evolution

The evolution of customer centricity requires the same level of planning (and is fraught with all the same pitfalls) as any other major change or enterprise-wide transformation process. The difference between customer experience and many other change efforts is that customer centricity and customer experience elevation cut across all elements of an organization.

When you read this blog in conjunction with the first blog in this two-part series, I realize customer-centric transformation can sound easy. That is the downside of do’s and don’ts lists. In truth, this undertaking is one of most complex, everchanging, and worthwhile adventures a leader can engage.

Fortunately, no leader has to go this daunting journey alone! There are ample resources available to help you steward success.

In fact, I am ready to schedule a time to talk about the opportunities that are in front of you. Simply send an email to kelly@josephmichelli.com and let’s chat.

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

5 Things You Should NOT Do in the Name of Customer Experience [Infographic]

customer experience, infographic

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

5 Things You Should Not Do in the Name of Customer Experience

customer experience, bubbles, people, crowd

I was asked recently to provide a couple (of what a reader called “See Spot Run”) blogs concerning must-have and must not do elements of a successful customer experience business.

Dick, Jane, and Spot

In case you aren’t familiar with the Spot referenced by the reader, he/she was a dog companion of Dick and Jane. Part of the Elson-Gray book series that taught many of us to read! Since I am in the customer experience business, if a reader wants a simplified message about do’s and don’ts of customer experience – it is my job to listen, fulfill their stated request, and make a personal connection. In this case, that connection hopefully comes through shared experiences with that reader concerning our early adventures with Spot!

This week I will focus on the Don’ts of Customer Experience and next week the Do’s.

5 Things You Should Not DO in the Name of Customer Experience

These are in no particular order:

A. DON’T Create a Touchpoint Map – A touchpoint map is a visual depiction of interaction points between a customer and a business as told from the business’ vantage point. If you are going to take the time to inventory your contact points with the customer, invest the extra time needed to look at that map from the customer’s side of the interaction. In other words, say “No” to touchpoint maps and “Yes” to customer journey maps.

B. DON’T Use CSAT as Your Customer Feedback Tool – Measuring CSAT (short for customer satisfaction) offers a narrow view of your customer’s experience. Satisfaction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to achieve customer engagement, loyalty, and referrals. If you are asking about satisfaction, beef-up your inquiry with questions about the effort customers expend to get their needs met, their likelihood to refer, and whether they are experiencing positive emotions like trust or pleasure along their journey with your company.

C. DON’T Fail to Close the Loop on Customer Feedback – Don’t ask for customer feedback unless you are going to act on it. By act, I mean such things as using notifications of a customer’s problem to follow-up with that customer to achieve a workable resolution. I also mean to look at collective data from customer experience breakdowns to achieve future process breakthroughs.

D. DON’T Rely solely on Quantitative Assessments of Customer Voice –There is more to customer listening than asking them to rate you on a 10-point scale. Quantifiable metrics are productive ways to measure progress on experience delivery, but qualitative listening is important when it comes to understanding how and why customers pick a number from a scale. Don’t forget the importance of asking customers to share what they are thinking and feeling about your experience. Qualitative listening comes in many forms – open-ended question surveys, focus groups, shop-a-longs, etc. The best form is simply sitting across from a customer and asking what they liked most or least about a recent transaction or their overall journey with your company.

E. DON’T Place Your Customer Above Your Team – Not only should your customer not be placed above your team, but your team should not be placed above your customer. Notions like “customers rule” or “employees are #1” are well-intentioned but myopic. I would err on the side of committing to deliver to meet the functional and emotional needs of people – whether those people are on your team or paying customers. If you are a great experience provider, your people will want to buy your products, and in that instance, they are both your team and your customer. The relationship between employee engagement and customer engagement is strong and reciprocal. The entire customer experience ecosystem must be in balance. Decisions that favor customers at the expense of team members won’t be sustainable (and vice versa).

Hopefully, I have served my customer for this blog (the person who asked for a “See Spot Run” version of things not to do in customer experience delivery), and I have added value to you as well. That leaves me asking how will YOU RUN your business delivery to achieve the customer loyalty and referrals you desire?

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

SaveSave

Redesigning Process Improvement in the Age of AI & the Customer {Infographic}

As a customer experience designer, the end goal of all process improvement is to do more that will increase customer value and effectiveness. Every process improvement effort should seek to effectively add value to customers.

process improvement, artificial intelligence, ai, customer experience

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

The Age of AI & the Customer

 

Redesigning Process Improvement in the Age of AI & the Customer

Long ago you could win in business if you had standardized processes and your competition did not. In essence, if you standardized your processes, you maximized efficiencies and drove consistency into your product creation and service delivery. Those standardization benefits are best exemplified by Henry Ford. Pity for his competitors who lacked Ford’s assembly line standardization and operated in a more random or haphazard way.

Many analysts suggest that in the 1970’s  – with advances in information technologies (IT) and business process reengineering (BPR) – a tectonic shift occurred in the direction of automation. In fact, to be successful and efficient since the 1970’s leaders have deployed automation to reduce manual process errors and variations. But how about today? What is needed from a process perspective in the modern day world of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning?

Human + Machine

In the book, Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AIPaul Daugherty and James Wilson suggest that automated processes are giving way to a future dominated by “adaptive processes.” While adaptive processes are defined in very complex ways by information systems designers, I’ll cull the concept to its essence by suggesting, that adaptive processes deploy real-time data to readily and continually guide improvements in all aspects of business.

Daugherty and Wilson put it this way:

Leading firms in many industries are now reimagining their processes to be more flexible, faster, and adaptable to the behaviors, preferences, and needs of their workers at a given moment. This adaptive capability is being driven by real-time data rather than by an a priori sequence of steps. The paradox is that although these processes are not standardized or routine, they can repeatedly deliver better outcomes. In fact, leading organizations have been able to bring to market individualized products and services (as opposed to the mass-produced goods of the past), as well as deliver profitable outcomes.

Daugherty and Wilson’s insights warrant a quick summary. Businesses moved to process standardization in the days of Henry Ford then to automation in the 1970’s. Collectively those business approaches drove increased consistency and efficiency. Today artificial intelligence provides real-time insight that can guide actions that aren’t necessarily standardized or routine but are instead individualized and profitable.

Adaptive Processes Success

So how do business leaders drive these modern adaptive processes? To answer that question fully, I encourage a thorough read of Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. If your time is short, I would suggest Bob Morris’ synopsis of the book provided on his site Blogging on Business. To get you started, I will highlight Bob’s take on the five key themes in Human + Machine, namely:

 Mindset: “Assuming a radically different approach toward business by reimagining work around the missing middle.” That is, humans and machines help each other to perform at their best. “People improve AI and, in turn, smart machines give humans superpowers.”

Experimentation: “Actively observing for spots in processes to test AI and to learn and scale reimagined process from the perspective of the missing middle.”

Leadership: “Making a commitment to the responsible use of AI from the start.”

Data: “Building a data ‘supply chain’ to fuel intelligent systems.”

 Skills: “Actively developing the eight ‘fusion skills’ necessary for reimagining processes in the missing middle.”

But What About the Customer?

For me (as a customer experience designer) the end goal of all process improvement (whether that improvement is driven by standardization, automation, or adaptivity) is to do more that will increase efficiency. In fact, the ultimate goal (from my worldview) of process improvement is increased customer value and effectiveness. Every process improvement effort should seek to effectively add value to customers.

With real-time insights that come from big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, companies are driving customer value in something author Patricia Seybold described back in 2002 as dynamic effectiveness. Patricia noted,

…in the customer economy, the efficiency-based approach to process automation and management doesn’t work. Why? Because today’s business processes must support customers’ goals and contexts (or scenarios) rather than merely codifying internal operations. Processes must be defined from the customer’s point of view, and the customer’s goal and context must be carried across and throughout all activities that make up the process. And the goal, context, and current status of the process should dynamically determine the next step in the process. In a world where customers’ goals and contexts are continually changing–even ever so slightly–it is next to impossible to anticipate every scenario and outcome that a customer needs.

Nimble, Effective, Customer Value

Thanks to AI and other emerging technologies we are getting better at anticipating customer needs and nimbly making process changes to drive dynamic effectiveness. Based on the research of Daugherty and Wilson, the good news is that dynamic effectiveness only occurs when humans leverage technology tools. It does not occur in applications where technology displaces humans or where humans fail to analyze rapidly available data.

My questions to you are as follows:

  • How would you describe your approach to process enhancement – standardization, automation, or adaptation?
  • What are you learning from real-time customer data that is helping you dynamically and effectively personalize process solutions that meet rapidly changing customer wants, needs, or desires?
  • How are you investing in both people and technology to better position a competitive advantage through adaptive process improvement?

My team and I are here to understand and strategize ways for you to improve your adaptive processes, customer value, and dynamic effectiveness. To schedule a time to talk, simply send us an email.

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

SaveSave

Social Media Influencer Strategy {Infographic}

social media, social influencer, social media influencer, customer experience

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Social Media Influencers and Your Customer Experience

social media influencer, influencer customer experience

Once upon a time, brands purchased advertisements which effectively influenced prospective buyers. In those days, consumers were at the mercy of advertising claims made across traditional outlets (e.g., network television, radio, newspapers, and magazines).

Nowadays newspapers struggle to generate sufficient ad revenues to stay solvent, people TIVO past television commercials, and giants in radio like iHeartRadio recently filed for bankruptcy. Thanks to social media, many brands have softened their traditional media buys and have focused instead on influencing purchasers through a variety of strategies. These approaches include such things like targeted political messaging on Facebook and paying influencers to position products.

Influencer is the Buzzword

Let’s look at the latter option – using influencers to drive product awareness and sales. The rise of social media influencers is well-chronicled. For example, the social/community company Crowd, notes:

“Influencer” is the biggest buzzword at the moment. Social Media Influencer Marketing is becoming one of the most effective ways to attract customers and opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers directly, amplify their message and increase buzz and brand awareness.

Favoring Social Media Influencers

Those of us who make a living helping brands deliver engaging experiences across their journey with a company (including during the awareness, consideration, and intent to purchase phases), appreciate important benefits of social media influencer strategy:

  • Now more than ever people don’t trust brands or individuals who overtly advertise on behalf of a brand. Yocale Business cites a 2017 Trinity Mirror/Ipsos study which showed 42% of respondents said they distrusted brands and 69% distrusted brand’s advertising. It’s a growing problem too as 37% reported they trust brands less than they used to and 43% claimed to trust advertising less than they used to. The report seems to point out that the customer baseline is distrust — and brands have to work from there to gain it back.
  • Endorsements and paid “celebrity” pitchmen/women (once a staple in the marketing arena) are also losing favor. (In Crowd cites a study by Roth Capital Partners noting, “78% of respondents…showed a distinct cynicism for celebrity-based marketing; given the millennial insistence on authenticity, this result is not terribly surprising.”
  • In lieu of formal endorsement deals, brands on social media often pay handsomely to position their products in the lifestyle path of those following social media influencers. Writing for Sprout Social Erika Held notes, “Celebrity influencers get lots of press around their multi-million dollar earnings and the brands that are writing those checks. But are they worth it? The answer, which will vary from brand-to-brand, is ‘It depends.’ First, you need to identify your brand’s goals and objectives for partnering with an influencer for a marketing campaign or content collaboration. Are you approaching it just as renting their audience? Or are you looking to form a longer-term relationship with the influencer, including co-creating content that lives on both of your platforms? Does the influencer have an engaged niche audience you haven’t been able to otherwise attract to your brand?”
  • Social Media influencers don’t have to be human. Animals, for example, reduce scandal risk like that encountered by Subway sandwich shops when their past-spokesman, Jared Fogle, was arrested for child sexual abuse. At the end of 2017, Forbes reported that the #1 animal influencer was Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy Cat, social influencer

Caveats of Social Media Influencers

Given all the factors mentioned above (and a host of other converging trends) that favor social media influencers, a couple of liabilities associated with folding social media influencers into your customer/prospect experience marketing strategy are often overlooked. Namely,

  • There is a narrow line between a paid brand spokesperson and a paid social media influencerIncreasingly the same cynicism that extends to a celebrity endorser can and does taint brands that message products through the audiences of social influencers. The Kendall Jenner Pepsi Campaign is a classic example of social influencer backlash.
  • It is often difficult to accurately assess the scope of an influencer’s audience.

On the issue of verifying influencer audience size, in an article titled Study of Influencer Spenders Finds Big Names, Lots of Fake Followers Ad Week cites a study by Points North Group which concludes:

Bot fraud is an industry-wide issue and one we’re continuing to actively work on.

Even as use of influencer marketing by big marketers grows, so do questions about how it’s measured. Reach numbers used to measure influencer campaigns often come from raw follower counts, without regard to how many followers actually saw posts—or were real.

According to the Ad Age article, Points North Group attempts to use algorithms to ferret out fake follower numbers from the claimed audience size of influencers. Points North scans…

followers of influencers to sort out such things as accounts making comments in languages that don’t make sense for the content or the influencer, or accounts making the exact same comments across multiple influencers and posts…the algorithm is similar to what e-mail users lean on to sort out spam.

While I support my client’s use of influencer marketing, I caution them to consider the liabilities and verification issues that are shared above.

I also remind my clients that the best influencer is one who is not paid to overtly or subtly share a product with an audience but a customer who is so delighted with the experience they received with your brand that they authentically share it with people they know and love – so that their network of real people (no matter how large or small) might enjoy a similar experience.

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Starbucks Stores Closing for Training | Infographic

starbucks, starbucks training

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Starbucks Store Closings for Training: Déjà vu and You

As I was writing my blog last week, the news was shifting quickly on the Starbucks debacle in Philadelphia. In fact, when I put the finishing touches on that post, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson had simply issued an apology and made a promise do a thorough investigation into the situation.

Predictions Made and Predictions Overlooked

As you’ll recall from my last post (based on the limited information available at the time), I offered an opinion concerning the importance of customer service skill development (e.g., roleplaying) and predicted implicit bias training somewhere in Starbucks future. While I am far from perfect in my predictions, I was glad to see the company taking action in accord with that prediction for training on “unconscious bias.”

What I failed to predict (but should have expected – based on my past work with the brand including The Starbucks Experience and Leading the Starbucks Way), was Starbucks’ swift and aggressive action to deploy training. 

Looking Back to 2008

One need only to have looked back to 2008 to have foreshadowed the events of this week. In fact, back in 2009, I wrote the following as an excerpt in a free downloadable eBook about Starbucks leadership principles…

Starbucks leadership did something virtually unheard of in modern day American business. They shut down operations to get service and quality right. For those of you, who live via the green and white Starbucks siren logo, fear not. The company’s shutdown was for only three and ½ hours but nonetheless, it was a bold move that garnered much media attention. One evening, Starbucks closed all of its U.S. stores and held comprehensive training sessions that focused on two things…. the coffee and the coffeehouse experience.

Given that Starbucks, like all other businesses, thrive on product, passion and people…Starbucks attempted to re-infuse passion for product excellence and customer experience through their evening compulsory training session. If you had attended Starbucks’ store closing training session, you would have seen a massive business attempting to operate as if it were a small company. Further, you would have observed complex operational processes reduced down to their most elemental level. Staff were trained or retrained on the look, smell, and even sounds involved in making a perfect espresso shot.  The concept of producing an uplifting moment while serving coffee was emphasized through the 5 core “ways of being” identified by leadership, namely:

Be Welcoming, Be Involved, Be Genuine, Be Knowledgeable, Be Considerate

Moreover, you would have been reminded of the Starbucks experience; the emotional, sensory and stage elements that lift a cup of coffee into an extraordinary service environment. I applaud the CEO Howard Schultz’ genius for passing on three and ½ hours of U.S. store income, to return to the core messages that led to the greatness of his company. 

While media talked about the novelty of this approach, many critics saw it as nothing more than an effort to gain free publicity by a wounded corporate giant. If the critics are right, Starbucks will see continued slowdown. If Howard’s intentions are as I suspect – you will see this as the beginning of a re-emphasis on customer experience and lessened preoccupation with short-term stock prices.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

That was 2008!

The events in Philadelphia in 2018 highlight a varied and substantial customer experience challenge faced by a different CEO; however, Starbucks once again announced that all U.S. locations will be shut down on May 29th for mandatory unconscious bias training. Around the time of the latest closing announcement CEO Kevin Johnson shared the following in a CNN interview:

…spending these three days on the ground, and sitting across from these young men, and really trying to understand how this could happen in today’s society, in a Starbucks, in a Starbucks, where our mission is around the Human experience, and creating a warm and welcoming environment for everyone…it’s an emotional learning experience. I take it personally…I’m affected by it, and I’m going to fix it.

What About You

Whether you love or hate Starbucks, view the mandatory training as PR spin or a substantive step in a process of needed change, I challenge you to look first at your own business and pose questions I tendered a decade ago – which I believe to be as relevant as ever…Specifically:

…how far are you willing to go to make sure that your staff fully delivers on the core elements of your ultimate customer experience? Would you have had the courage of your convictions to shut down all income generating operations for a period of time, to go back to the basics in your staff training?  Before you get to that point, what could you be doing right now to engage staff in a mini re-introduction of business basics that may be inconsistently present in your workplace?

2008, 2018, 2028…the story will always be the same. Brands that consistently drive a genuine experience, and are welcoming and considerate (for every customer they are privileged to serve) will thrive! Those that fail will perish!

I genuinely welcome the opportunity to explore how to assist you to make your customer experience and business sustainable. Your journey can start as easily as a call to 727-289-1571 or an email to kelly@josephmichelli.com.

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

The Starbucks Experience Infographic | Challenges and Opportunities in Philadelphia

starbucks, customer experience

 

_________________________________________________________________

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

SaveSave