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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
While some of us have understood this for quite some time, customer experience (CX) initiatives are gaining more publicity and notoriety as the table stakes increase. Don’t take our word for it, there are many who would argue that CX shouldn’t just be a priority—it should be your top priority.
A recent article in AdAge stated, “Chief marketing officers say top management is increasingly expecting them to lead their organizations’ customer-experience efforts. But at the same time, they admit their progress doing so is lacking.” And, in a recent study conducted by Gartner they found that 25% of CMOs say leading customer experience is the most-increased expectation CEOs have of them. Gartner believes that by 2016, companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver. Hopefully that statement doesn’t make you shudder. At the very least, I hope you stop and think how you compare to the competition and what your organization is doing to stay ahead of the game.
Analysts share this growing sentiment. Laura McLellen, VP-marketing strategies at Gartner and author of the study cited said, “the opportunity to lead customer-experience efforts is an opportunity for CMOs to gain more influence within their companies, but they risk leaving that influence on the table if they don’t take the reins soon.” It is time to make CX a priority—a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
To help you in your CX efforts, here are nine habits of leading customer feedback managers:
We are just weeks into a new year—make your CX initiatives your top strategic priority to ensure success. Start looking for ways, as Bezos stated, to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. Your bottom line is depending on it.
As Marti Eulberg says, the facility was not designed from an automotive perspective but was designed from a retail and CX perspective. They looked at Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple to better understand how customers interacted with these brands. They structured their processes to do business the way the customer wants, not the other way round.
The salespeople, or Experience Guides, are not on commission and they go through 60 days of training, an amazing number compared to the rest of the industry. They encourage transparency through the process from determining the value of a trade to how the vehicle is serviced.
I really like their community room idea. They make it available to people in the community to have meetings which is a great way to generate showroom traffic and get customers into the store who may normally never come in. The plan is not to put the stores on dealer row. They want them to have a smaller footprint in the community, one that’s part of the neighbourhood. They don’t say it but it acts to differentiate the store from other dealers.
Some interesting ideas. As always, would appreciate your thoughts.
Until next time.
Date: March 12, 2015
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Date: March 12, 2015
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Many organizations have made a verbal or written commitment towards improving the customer experience, but are they really following through? Most are not, according to a recent study conducted by MaritzCX. Even in today’s big data world where information is everywhere, companies struggle to completely leverage all of their customer-generated data. This shortcoming represents missed opportunity, and ultimately, revenue lost.
Join this American Banker webcast and learn more about the findings generated by “MaritzCX’s Voice of the Customer: Practices and Challenges study.” Then use these eye-opening results to maximize your organization’s VoC program.
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American Banker is the leading information resource serving the banking and financial services community.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced management changes to America’s nuclear launch force. They’re trying to address a whole host of problems, but one of them is a culture in which cheating on proficiency tests is rampant. If there is one group of people you don’t want cheating on proficiency tests, it is probably a group that can start (and finish) a nuclear war in less than a minute.
A good question is, “why are these people cheating?” They are obviously smart and presumably conscientious, so why cheat? As reported by NPR, a large reason for the cheating is the extremely high standard to which officers are held on the proficiency tests. They take tests all the time, and to remain in their positions they must score higher than 90 percent on all of them. That’s a high (and probably pretty reasonable) standard but that’s not all. For launch personnel to actually progress in their careers, they must score nearly perfectly on all of these extremely complex tests. Everyone in the launch personnel community knows that it is nearly impossible to score perfectly on all the tests, so senior officers help junior officers and junior officers help each other. This results in a culture of cheating.
What does this have to do with automotive dealership personnel? Many people are concerned that a culture of cheating is also pervasive when it comes to automotive customer experience surveys. (By the way, this issue affects other industries as well.) These surveys are basically dealerships’ proficiency exams, showing how well they treat customers. While there are many reasons why dealership personnel may pressure customers or use other tactics to inflate scores, being held to unrealistically high standards is probably one of them. I have heard of some cases where dealers’ top-box goals are set at 95 percent or higher in an effort to ensure “continuous improvement.”
At some point, companies need to decide what is “good enough” in terms of customer satisfaction and improvement in customer satisfaction metrics beyond that point should not be mandated. The “good enough” criterion should be high, but it is important that it is not unrealistically high. In other words, the goal must be realistic and obtainable using legitimate methods of improving the customer experience. Otherwise you are likely to end up with a culture of cheating.
Often times the blogs I write stem from experiences I have had that remind of important lessons that CX practitioners should always keep in mind. Most often these are negative experiences, but at times there are some positive ones that stand out. This one blows them all away.
In the last few months, I discovered a new favorite place to have breakfast on the weekend. It’s a small locally owned establishment in Deerfield, IL appropriately called “Kevin’s Place.” It’s been around a number of years, but because I live in a neighboring village, I had not discovered it until recently when we met another family there.
The food is very good and the menu has just about anything you might want, but that is just a small part of the draw. The real draw is Kevin. Kevin comes to every table to take every order. He sits down with you and engages each person at the table. He is always pleasant and funny. Yes, I like to have my toast buttered back at the factory. The place is not tiny, so Kevin gets around.
I have gotten to the point that if I am going to go out for a full breakfast I don’t want to go anywhere else.
Earlier this week, my wife was on Facebook and saw a post about Kevin’s place. Evidently, there are a few things I didn’t know about Kevin. He has had a serious illness for the past two years to the point where he was taking morphine to remediate his suffering. It is amazing to me to think that this man was able to not only work, but to have the positive outlook he has had, despite a serious disease.
The point of the post on social media was that during Kevin’s illness he had not paid his sales taxes accurately and the relevant authority temporarily removed his business license. He had to shut down. Kevin’s message had been forwarded by a customer that wanted to rally other customers to help Kevin out. She started a GoFundMe drive for Kevin. She set a goal of $5,000. By day 4 of the GoFundMe drive it has already raised nearly $16,000. If you read the comments of the donors, you cannot help but be amazed at the lives that Kevin touches with his hospitality.
Kevin’s story and the reaction by the community is inspiring to say the least. The broader message for CX professionals should not be overlooked. Get to know, love and appreciate your customers and they will love you back.
Have you built an emotional connection with your customers? Would they be moved to action if there was a threat to your business?
I am praying for Kevin and can’t wait for my next visit when he is back to business.
Customer experience…it’s something we’re all very familiar with because, after all, while we might not all be customers during the day, all of us play one at home: we’re customers of utility companies, of retailers, of healthcare providers, and the list goes on and on. For that reason, we all know a great customer experience when we see it but, sadly, we recognize many more bad ones. In my experience (pardon the pun), great customer experiences share three key hallmarks presented below; unfortunately, while one of the three is quite easy to attain, achieving all three concurrently is left to a very few companies.
A great customer experience, nearly by definition, is an easy one. It should be easy to reach a provider, easy to relay a problem or request to them, and, ultimately, easy to reach a solution or resolution. While this might not seem like a tall order, consider your latest interactions with a provider or vendor and whether you’d characterize dealing with them as “easy”. The best experiences are the ones where things happen automatically, as if the provider were able to read your mind and answer a question you hadn’t yet asked.
Great customer experiences are always personalized: they’re about you; they account for your history, they know your special circumstances, and they recognize how you’re different from other customers. A personalized experience makes us feel special and cared for. A great experience is one where customers are treated not as categories but as individuals.
A great customer experience ensures that the right, specialized expertise and authority are made available from the onset. No one wants to spend time explaining something to someone who either clearly doesn’t understand its depth or who doesn’t have the authority to do anything about it. We all want to deal with the person who will be able to reach an ultimate resolution, and we want to do so from the very beginning.
Once again, the unfortunate reality is that while achieving one of these hallmarks individually is not a massive undertaking, attaining two is difficult, and achieving all three is left to a rare few companies that provide superlative customer experiences.
Alright … I know it’s pretty common for a memorable excursion to serve as inspiration for someone to chime in about their experiences. We have been conditioned from a young age to write an essay at the beginning of each school year about ‘How I spent my summer vacation!’ Bear with me – I’ll try to make it short and sweet and provide a few thoughts to consider.
The Quick Overview
I spent seven days in a fabulous Punta Cana all-inclusive resort with four of my best friends since Jr. High… so already we know this vacation will be memorable and fabulous. And we were not disappointed!
Our accommodations included one poolside room located conveniently adjacent to the ‘Club-Members only’ swim-up bar, and another massive, well-appointed one bedroom suite; both rooms included Jacuzzis, marble tile, lush robes, and everything else you might envision for the perfect week.
The service included a personal butler to handle all of our questions and requests, effervescent staff to fetch cocktails or towels, and a high-energy ‘fun’ team dedicated to entertaining us with activities and shows from morning until late into the night, they were really amazing!
Now to the topic of interest—the food. Well, there was lots of it, but not so fabulous. The food was edible, for the most part, and they tried really hard to make it LOOK appetizing. Suffice it to say the taste and texture was nothing to write home about. (At this juncture, let me also explain that my husband has been in the restaurant business since high school and my friend’s husband is a traveling chef, serving stars like Madonna and Elton John – so maybe our expectations are higher than most, but that’s another topic!)
So after a fun-filled week, we checked out and were handed our survey to complete and pass back to the front desk. I LOVE DOING SURVEYS! (I also love reviewing the survey for errors or issues, but my perspective is biased because I’ve been in market research since I was young.) My friend said to mark Excellent for everything – because they tried so hard and we had a great time. Did she forget about the stomach cramps she was having from the paella with baby octopi she ate the day before? Or perhaps because her tongue was no longer yellow from the solid chunk of saffron she bit into, she may have forgotten that some of the meals were not quite ‘Excellent’?
I think this situation could have benefitted from the ‘Make or Break’ customer satisfaction research model! (For more detail – see Vol. 54, No. 2, 2012 of International Journal of Market Research (IJMR) on the topic of the “Make or Break” non-compensatory model of customer satisfaction by MaritzCX. The Make or Break approach is designed to capture a range of customer experiences with products and services from the catastrophic to the extremely positive.)
Experts at MaritzCX write that the Make or Break customer satisfaction model is built on the belief that non-linear, non-compensatory research methods apply to customer satisfaction. In an article published in the International Journal of Market Research our experts focus on incorporating this key metric and its impact. Their findings conclude that the research of customer satisfaction hasn’t seen the same level of attention and development as other topics in marketing research, the ‘Make or Break’ approach represents an important evolutionary step in understanding the concept of satisfaction.
Other findings from MaritzCX research conclude the following:
A linear model assumes that each one point improvement in a given attribute increases overall satisfaction by an exactly equal amount. A compensatory model assumes that shortcomings in one attribute might be made up, or compensated, by enhanced performance on other attributes.
Unfortunately, neither of these assumptions is very realistic. We can easily imagine that a brand benefits more from improvements in peak performance than it does from equal size improvements in low levels of performance – for example, improving already high levels of performance might give the brand the edge it needs over competitors, but moving from bad to slightly less bad on an attribute might have no impact at all. So the assumption of linearity is a poor one.
Similarly, we know that customers sometimes suffer catastrophic service failures. A serious failure on a single attribute might render performance on other attributes irrelevant. So the compensatory assumption also looks like a bad bet.
You see, sometimes all things are not created equal. Most customer satisfaction research (particularly when done ‘in-house’) assumes that if they get ratings for the things they care about, they will understand the customer experience. However, in my friend’s case, the service (or maybe the ambiance) clearly over-shadowed the bad food. In her case, the excellent service received made her total experience seem wonderful! It could have worked in the reverse, where that massive hunk of yellow goo could have caused a ‘break’ in the overall experience. Unfortunately, this resort will never know – because they didn’t ask.
Give your surveys a thorough once-over to ensure you aren’t missing out on key insights. Your business could learn something beneficial from the ‘Make or Break’ question methodology.