ideas and chatter from the customer experience community

Announcing MaritzCX – Redefining the Customer Experience (CX)


Today I am thrilled to announce the creation of MaritzCX!

Allegiance Software Inc. and Maritz Holdings Inc. have announced the intent to create a new independent company, MaritzCX, through the acquisition of Allegiance and subsequent combination with Maritz Research Inc.

We will bring together the award-winning software innovation of Allegiance with the market research expertise of Maritz Research to form an entirely new kind of global customer experience company. We are doing this for two reasons:

First and foremost, the world has changed. The opinion of one customer can quickly influence millions. We believe that it is time to treat and serve each customer as an individual to garner their loyalty.

Second, the industry value-chain has shifted. Market research was once prized for gathering high-quality data. Today, clients want the data, and much more. MaritzCX is all about helping you achieve loyalty with your customers, and generate more ROI.

The mission of MaritzCX is to drive tangible increases in customer retention, conversion, and lifetime value. We do this by helping our customers see earlier, sense faster, and act personally. We will accomplish this by embedding our CX Intelligence & Actions Systems into the fabric of business operations. Our goal is both simple and achievable: to earn the right as your preferred Customer Experience Outcomes Partner.

We are poised to do great things with accelerated momentum. MaritzCX is forging a new path for the multi-billion CX industry. With an unmatched combination of customer experience (CX) software, data and research science, deep vertical market expertise, and managed program services, MaritzCX will deliver the world’s broadest end-to-end CX software platform and services business.

The impact of customer-churn is measured in trillions of dollars, so the ability to see, sense, and act upon the experience of every customer is critical. As MaritzCX, we will accelerate the flow of CX intelligence, from months to minutes, on an organization-wide scale. We will automate the actions to treat and serve every customer as the individual they are. And we will anticipate and influence the triggers of customer happiness over the lifetime of relationships.

I’m excited about this new change, and I invite you to learn more at

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Going the Wrong Way with Social Media

A couple of months ago, I shared findings from the 2014 Maritz Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey showing that organizations increasingly are trying to capture and leverage information from social media (A Little Secret About Social Media).  Indeed, our research shows organizations that succeed at “putting the Voice of the Customer to work” use social media to: (a) understand and improve customer experiences, (b) manage relationships with individual customers, and (c) generate favorable brand imagery by leveraging posts from satisfied customers.

Still, a recent personal experience made it glaringly clear that not all firms are getting it right when it comes to social media.

A few weeks ago, I enrolled in a hotel loyalty program that promises a guaranteed room upgrade to any member willing to pay the annual fee to receive “Ambassador” status.  At first glance, this looked like a can’t lose proposition.  However, my first attempt to take advantage of this status revealed a sizeable gap between the brand promise and the brand reality.

For a recent vacation at an island resort, I booked a ground-level, oceanfront room – at a premium price – with the expectation of being upgraded to the next best oceanfront accommodation.  Upon arrival and check-in, my status in the loyalty program was acknowledged, and I was informed that my room indeed had been upgraded.  Unfortunately, the “upgrade” was not oceanfront – it was a larger room, located at the opposite end of the property, overlooking nothing particularly interesting.  When I indicated that my wife and I really were hoping for a ground-level room on the beach, I was informed that an upgraded oceanfront room was available, but would require paying an additional daily charge that was approximately 30% higher than the rate I had booked.  We had not traveled this far to look at the back of the property.  So, after expressing disappointment, I reluctantly agreed to pay the additional charges.

I am pleased to report that we had a great vacation, and truly enjoyed the resort and its friendly, attentive staff.   Still, I was a little miffed by what I perceived to be a classic bait and switch maneuver by this hotel.

Two days ago, I received an email inviting me to complete a survey regarding our stay at the above property.  I completed the survey, giving the hotel and its staff very favorable ratings on just about every aspect of the experience.  However, when asked to rate the “value received for price paid,” I gave the hotel a very poor rating.  In the “Comments” section of the survey I explained this rating, offering details regarding the additional loyalty program fee, the upgrade issue, and the increased charges.

Ordinarily, after completing such a survey, I would expect to see a “Thank You for Your Feedback!” message and that pretty much would have been the end of it.  However, the number of favorable ratings I had given apparently triggered an automatic invitation to “share the experience” with others by writing a review that would be posted on the hotel’s website.  So, that’s what I did.  I entitled the review “Bait and Switch.”  I began by saying that my wife and I had a great experience, overall.  I also provided positive details about the property and the staff.  I then devoted the remainder of the review to our disappointment with the promised vs. actual room upgrade.

Yesterday, I received the following email message from the hotel:

“Your review has been rejected.  We are unable to post your review at this time due to the following:  Irrelevant or Inappropriate Content.  To revise your review, please click here.”

When I clicked on the link, there was nothing to revise (even if I had wanted to do so).

In summary, the hotel requested my feedback, which I gave.  I was invited to write a review that would be posted on the hotel’s website.  I took the time to write an honest review, reflecting both good and disappointing aspects of my experience.  For my efforts, I was rewarded with a rejection due to “irrelevant or inappropriate content.”

The content of my review clearly was relevant to my experience.  Therefore, I can only conclude that the review was rejected because the content was inappropriate.  As I did not use any profane language in my review, I also can only conclude that the content was deemed “inappropriate” because it did not serve the interests of the hotel or the brand.

In my humble opinion, this is a prime example of how not to use social media.   The company should have posted the review, then seized the opportunity to make things right by posting a reply.  The reply could have attempted to explain and clarify the upgrade policy.  It might have included an apology and, perhaps, offer the customer an incentive to give the hotel a second chance. Any of these replies would serve the interests of both customer and company.  Regrettably, this opportunity was squandered.

If you ask for the customer’s feedback, be prepared to listen and respond regardless of whether the content is what you want or hope to hear.  If you want to build brand trust and loyalty, be transparent.  Don’t ask customers to invest the time and effort to write a candid review they expect others will see if you have no intention of posting it.

Assuming I continue to do business with this hotel chain, the next time I am asked to provide feedback regarding a stay, how do you think I am going to respond?

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Customer Experience is the New Television Advertising

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to futurist Daniel Burrus speak about the difference between soft and hard trends. Soft trends are those that may or may not continue and can likely be affected by events or action taken by companies, governments, or individuals. For example, based on the first few years of growth, we might expect that current penetration of tablet usage would be much greater than it is. Hard trends are definitive. Is it likely that flip phones will reverse their decline? Is it possible that smartphones’ capabilities will not continue to grow? Both of these deserve a resounding no. These are hard trends.

Seinfeld-Big-BangThere is little doubt that customers using alternative means of engaging with companies and learning about their products will continue to grow. This is also a hard trend. Does this mean that traditional retail and call-center channels will remain relevant and important? While I can’t say these channels will remain relevant forever, I can say they will likely remain key points of customer engagement for the foreseeable future. Why do I say that? Let’s look to television advertising for the answer.

In 1994, the top-rated television show was Seinfeld with a 15.7 television rating. In the last year, the top-rated television show was the Big Bang Theory at 5.0, which would have ranked 58th in 1994. Although there are myriad more ways to reach people, including cable TV, social media, paid search, banner ads, etc., companies can still reach the largest audience of non and infrequent customers at one time with network TV. That said, companies’ marketing and advertising programs today are much more complex and diverse than they were in 1994. Smart marketers have one more adjective to describe their marketing programs: integrated. Traditional channels of engagement with the customer will remain important, even in a reduced role as a customer-engagement tool. Nevertheless, even in that reduced role, traditional channels achieve a deeper level of engagement due to human contact, and are therefore arguably still the most important.

Like the challenge that marketers have been facing, customer-experience professionals need to focus on the complex and diverse experiences that make up their customers’ respective journeys. Traditional channels remain important and deserve focus to ensure customer engagement is maximized. Smart customer-experience professionals will also take an integrated approach adding an understanding of how all touch points fit together as part of the consumer journey.

Have you considered all of the customer touch points in your CX programs? How are you examining the collective impact of these touch points and the implications for your business?

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Video: The MaritzCX Automotive Conference: What Did We Learn? (Part Two)

To hear what clients learned at the MaritzCX Automotive Conference is much more meaningful when they tell us in their own words.  Here’s a few more stories, this time from Kia, Honda, and Dominion Dealer Solutions.

Until next time.


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Video: The MaritzCX Automotive Conference: What Did We Learn? (Part One)

One of the benefits of the MaritzCX Automotive Conference was that we had competitors sitting side by side who talked about the challenges they face.   And many of the challenges are similar.   A lot of information was presented and in this video, clients from General Motors, Mazda, and Chrysler share some insight.

Until next time.


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Learning From An Exciting Automotive CX Transformation: Four Questions You Should Be Asking if Your Organization Wants To Transform Its CX

Last week Sonic Automotive, the fourth largest dealership group in the US launched EchoPark, a new automotive experience focused on selling pre-owned vehicles. Their first store is in the Denver market of Thornton. In a world where pretty much every company is striving to differentiate on the customer experience, Sonic is a shining example of how to truly accomplish this goal.


Starting with the name and as you enter the store, EchoPark doesn’t feel like any car retailer you’ve ever seen. If you didn’t know there was a huge lot full of cars or a service area that you could see right into, you’d think you were transported to the Apple store, a Starbucks or even a Four Seasons.

EchoPark has introduced many new features and details that customers are not used to seeing in automotive dealerships, including:

  • An Imagine Bar that features iPads and a 42-foot long video wall. You sit at in front of an iPad and can do research on vehicles EchoPark offers or any other automotive website, including competitors. Sonic clearly realized that customers are going to do extensive searching online, including searching competitive sites while in the dealership, with or without their imagine bar. That’s what smartphones have done for the consumer. Sonic concluded they should support, rather than resist customers’ desire and make their experience that much better.


  • A Drive-in Appraisal Booth, where a customer can bring their car in and stay with the appraiser as they inspect and appraise the vehicle. The customer is able to see the whole process and get a complete understanding of how the process works and why a certain value was attached to their vehicle. They may still get a price that is lower than they thought, but if they understand how it was developed and why, they may still be disappointed but less likely to feel that EchoPark is trying to cheat them.
  • A Wide Open, Comfortable Environment with couches and comfy chairs instead of boxy private offices that seem more like an interrogation room than a place where a customer wants to enter into the 2nd most important purchase after a home. Mobile technology frees sales people from having to be tied to a desk.  The environment helps to make conversations less stressful and friendlier.
  • Greater Service Transparency by using a using a glass wall to separate the customer waiting area from the service facility, including a station where children can “talk to the tech” to find out what they are doing. Customers no longer have to worry about what’s going on in the back with their vehicle, they can see for themselves.

These are just a few of the innovative approaches the Sonic has taken with EchoPark. What they have done is a lesson to those companies that seek to amp up their own customer experience. In designing and building EchoPark, Sonic has…

  • Killed some sacred cows
  • Borrowed from innovative retail environments outside of the auto industry.
  • Embraced technology tools
  • Let customers have more control

Perhaps the fact that EchoPark is a brand new concept makes undertaking this kind of customer experience transformation more doable. However, it doesn’t mean these same lessons can’t be applied to a long established business. After all, would it really be a surprise to know that auto customers don’t like the appraisal process or often feel left in the dark? Is anyone really questioning whether customers have access to more information that gives them greater control?

It’s not a question of knowledge of what needs to be changed, but rather be willing to take on the challenge and getting the organization working together to make it happen. Ask yourself four simple questions:

  • Are there obvious, long-standing customer frustrations with your industry? Things that people in your organization and among competitors would say that have always been done the same way. Figure out how you can change the game. If you don’t someone else will.
  • Have you looked at leaders in customer experience in other industries to learn from what they do? Look to industry leaders that clearly and perennially differentiate themselves like Starbucks, Apple, Four Seasons, CostcoUSAASouthwest Airlines, etc. If you can’t find anything that might be applicable to your business, you are not looking hard enough.
  • How can you (continue to) integrate technology to enhance your customer experience? Technological innovation is moving at a torrid pace and will only accelerate. Whether it is an app, website features, tools in your channels or some other innovation, there are many opportunities to innovate. Don’t ever be satisfied that you’ve done enough.
  • What are your customers doing with technology that you would like to push back on? If there is anything you can identify in answer to this question, consider flipping the script. Figure out how you can embrace what the customer is doing and align it with choosing you as their brand of choice.

Can you think of other long standing companies in their industry that have transformed the customer experience?  Have they successfully addressed the questions above?

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My Bank Has Multiple Personalities

I bank with a large, national retail bank that offers investment services as a line of business. My experience with the investment services folks was nothing like dealing with people in other areas of the bank. While the retail banking employees are warm, friendly, and convey a spirit of helpfulness, the people in the investment house were none of the above.

By the time I had opened a new investment account, I felt acutely worse about the bank. Our relationship seems to be eroding.

I have interacted with my bank many times through the years. If I were asked if my recent interactions with the investment house were effective and accomplished what I wanted, I would say, ‘yes’. The account was opened and my money was put into the account, everything I expected them to do. The important thing to note is that it wasn’t the function of the transactions that were dissatisfying; it was the way they made me feel. If the bank only measures my satisfaction with the transaction they will have a limited and misleading view of my experience.

Emotions are a critical component of any customer satisfaction program. We are finding that by measuring emotion we can better understand why people stay or go. We must measure beyond a single transaction and get to the overall relationship, which encompasses all channels and products and drives to the heart of desired omni-channel marketing activity.

My bank must understand all aspects of my relationship. If they only measure my perceptions one transaction at a time, they will miss the fact that one line of business made me feel unappreciated, and who wants to give their money to someone who doesn’t appreciate them? I might start looking for a new bank…

So, what do you do about it?

  • Measure the whole relationship, in addition to transactions, annually (at least) across all interactions (including marketing communication) within lines of business but should also consider looking across LOBs as well business
  • Tie brand measurement and the emotional components of the brand into the customer experience measurement – it is critical to understand if the brand’s promise is being executed
  • Understand the competitive context of your organization, you may be performing well, but others may be performing better and may entice your customers away
  • Use transactional measurement to improve the operations of your business while measuring the Omni-channel to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and improve your relational marketing communication
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Video: An Historic Day

The intention to merge between Allegiance Software and Maritz Research was announced at our Automotive Summit in Las Vegas last week.   There was a lot of positive buzz with clients asking what exactly happened and what are the benefits. There’s no better folks to explain the situation than MaritzCX‘s Ed Reilly, Executive VP, and Dale Drerup, VP Global Automotive Research Group.

Harnessing the Voice of Employees to Improve Customer Experience

  In recent blogs, I’ve been sharing results of the 2014 Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey conducted by Maritz.  Today, I’d like to continue by focusing on another of the many VoC best practices revealed by our research:  Harnessing the Voice of Employees to gain insights that drive customer experience improvements. The […]

Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

  The Internet will kill television. Television will kill radio. Radio will kill the newspaper. Didn’t really happen, did it? Many today are proselytizing the imminent demise of the research world’s workhorse—the humble survey. I’m here to tell you they are dead wrong…for now. Let me tell you why. We in the research and CXM world are in […]

Do We Really Need to Delight Our Patients or Just Cure Them?

Date: November 19, 2014
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MST
Duration: 60 Minutes

Join Allegiance, a leader in healthcare patient experience solutions and their special guest, Robert Wood Johnson-Hamilton Medical Center for a webinar conversation describing how their collaboration has created a unique and sustainable competitive advantage within their marketplace. Learn about the top 5 things a healthcare provider must do in 2015 in order to ensure competitive […]

How Text Analytics Changes Everything

The advent of data warehouses gave business the power to collect, store and analyze information from multiple corporate systems in a single, high-performance environment. However business managers were limited to analyzing only structured data. Text analytics opens the floodgates to new insights by allowing companies to analyze unstructured, freeform data in the same way structured […]

Top Nine Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty

Every company executive will raise their hand and say they believe having loyalty customers is a key to business success. Fostering true loyalty and engagement starts at a basic level. These nine principles will guide you in your efforts to create greater loyalty and engagement within your organization. It’s one of the most critical ways […]

From Zero to a World-class B2B VoC Program in Under 12 Months

Date: December 3, 2014
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM MST
Duration: 60 Minutes

The OpenText team goal was simple: to launch a program to impact front-line teams and influence business results using a VoC program and platform – and to do it un under 12 months. Learn how industry leading B2B company OpenText launched their VoC program quickly, overcame obstacles, and grew to a world-class program in 12 […]

NPS Analytics

There are many ways to measure customer loyalty, including Net Promoter Score (NPS). However, just measuring and knowing your NPS score isn’t enough. In order to grow your customer loyalty, you need to know how groups of customers feel about your company and why.   NPS Analytics Download Now

The Top 11 Ways to Increase Your Employee Loyalty

The lifeblood of every business is its employees. Consider these starting facts: (1) Each year the average company loses 20-50 percent of its employee base (Bain & Company), and (2) Replacing a lost employee costs 150 percent of that person’s annual salary (Columbia University). Today it is critical to focus on employees and Increase their loyalty […]

The Nine Habits of Leading Customer Feedback Managers

Gathering customer feedback is the only way for a company to truly know and understand its customers’ needs, wants, concerns, and issues, as well as create more and lasting value for them. Regardless of whether customer feedback is managed by a single person or multiple people in an organization, or even a third-party provider, companies […]

11 Easy Ways to Improve Your Survey Response Rates

Surveys are a powerful and cost-effective way to gather information, identify and diagnose problems, and uncover new and emerging opportunities. However, one of the biggest challenges that many companies face in conducting surveys is getting the right mix of people taking surveys and also getting a high enough response rate in order to ensure that […]

The Top 10 Voice of Customer (VoC) Best Practices

Listening to and understanding the voice of the customer is crucial to restoring consumer trust in businesses and building customer loyalty, engagement and advocacy. Ultimately it will be those companies that truly listen to their customers that will not only win customers’ trust and business, but set themselves apart from the competition.   The Top […]

A Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Customer Experience (CX) Program

Customer experience programs are taking off these days—and they should be. Companies with a formal CX program grow faster and make more money. This guide is written for any business leader wishing to learn about CX programs, launching a CX program, how to become better at delivering and improving CX, getting closer to customers, or getting […]

Managing Customer Relationships – One at a Time

In last week’s blog, we shared results of the 2014 Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey recently conducted by Maritz Research.  We suggested that one way organizations can get the most out of their investments in monitoring social media is to use posts to identify opportunities to manage relationships with individual customers.  Companies […]

How to Get the Most from Social Media

In last week’s blog, I shared results of the 2014 Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey recently conducted by Maritz Research. I focused on a rather interesting finding that having an effective method of monitoring social media—in and of itself—is not strongly related to VoC program success, at least not when the measure […]

Psst….Want to Hear a Little Secret About Social Media?

Move over marketing researchers, and make room for social media. That’s what we’ve been hearing for several years now.  Today a plethora of websites make it possible for consumers to read what others have to say about everything from hotels to hospitals, restaurants to repair services, and caterers to car dealerships.  These same sites also […]