Introducing: The Quantifiable Customer Journey Map

The top 10 things you will learn by reading this blog article:
1) What a customer journey map is and what it is used for.
2) What a customer service map is and what it used for.
3) The business benefits of developing a best practice customer journey.
4) How a customer journey map and a customer service map relate and map to each other.
5) Best practices in the development of customer journey maps and customer service maps.
6) How to build a hierarchy of customer journey map levels such that a customer service map is a natural outcome of the customer journey mapping process.
7) What completed examples of customer journey maps and service maps look like.
8) What critical components are missing from many customer journey maps.
9) How the invention, development and rollout of the quantifiable customer journey map is the wave of the future adding tremendous new business and customer value to its usage.
10) How this new quantifiable customer journey map is the most comprehensive and quantifiable method to come along.

One of the relatively newer tools for larger companies and enterprises in the customer experience professional’s toolbox is the practice of customer journey mapping as well as customer service mapping. First, a complete and simple definition of both of these tools is as follows:

1) Customer journey map definition:

A customer journey map is the pictorial representation, from the customer’s viewpoint, of their experience of interacting with a company for various customer service needs.

2) Customer service map definition:

A customer service map is the pictorial representation, from the company’s (internal) viewpoint, of the capabilities and processes used to fulfill various customer service needs.

Difference Between the Two Definitions Above: The major difference between the two techniques above is the perspective as follows:

Journey mapping is from the customer’s external viewpoint (interacting with the company for various customer service needs), while the service map is an internal viewpoint (company provision of services for various customer needs).

One key point is that service mapping is much less valuable if constructed prior to building the customer journey map. A best practice customer journey map documents the major paths the customer uses to obtain service from the company, the various reasons customers interact with the company, gaps in the current delivery of customer service, best practices that should be kept and strengthened and most importantly, it should map and track customer health metrics that customers indicate are most important to them. Once this journey is documented and mapped, then the current state and future state service maps can be constructed to determine how and how well the company is serving the customer including any service gaps that need to be filled.

It is worthy to note that there are now a number of emerging tools that automate the development of a customer journey map. While these accelerate the timeline of the development of the customer journey map, the automation of this process can shortchange the most valuable parts of the team map development exercise which include the following (sample):

  1. Team discussion & agreement on the overall current state of customer service and experience.
  2. Team customer journey point of view discussion, socialization and consensus building.
  3. Team prioritization of the top future state customer service programs and processes.
  4. Developing team concurrence on the matrix of cost to serve vs. service quality delivery levels.

I have used these customer experience tools extensively in the past during numerous client consulting engagements and found them very useful. Some of the business benefits for utilizing these tools are as follows:

1) Provides a comprehensive pictorial of the various paths the customer transits through to obtain service from the company.
2) Provides a great assessment of the current state of customer practices and customer health.
3) Provides a great assessment of the future (needed) state of the optimal way to provide customer service that would enhance the service quality level vs. current state.
4) Provides a gateway to be able to map out internal service pathways as well as to document existing gaps and opportunities in those pathways.
5) (New) The “Quantifiable Customer Journey Map” now provides the best assessment of the current state of customer health across all major customer journey phases.
6) (New) The “Quantifiable Customer Journey Map” now provides the best snapshot of both the current state of customer health as well as needed future state program capabilities based directly on customer input and feedback.

One of the major historical gaps in producing customer journey maps was that many times the journey map merely documented the customer journey and experience without regard to the measurement of customer relevant metrics that can be leveraged to increase customer loyalty, spend, share of wallet, CSAT, NPS, etc. The exercise to measure customer health was often performed separately or in parallel to the customer journey mapping process. In order to bridge this gap in many existing customer journey maps, I have developed a new and innovative way to map a customer journey while simultaneous accomplishing the following:
1) Cultivating and documenting the customer metrics that matter most to the customer.
2) Delivering current state quantification of those top customer metrics.
3) Delivering feedback from the customer on what capabilities future state customer programs should contain.

Introducing: The NEW Quantifiable Customer Journey Map

The following graphic is the final version of a new quantifiable customer journey map I have developed which now includes the discrete measurement of customer health as part of the customer journey map development process. I will break down and detail each best practice component of this new customer journey map in later sections of this article.

The Quantifiable Customer Journey Map

Best Practice Customer Journey Detailed Components
Next we will detail each component of this new “quantifiable customer journey map”.

First let’s detail how the components of a customer journey map are determined. The structural framework components of a customer journey map exist along the x and y axis of the map. The components you will find in both the x-axis and y-axis of a customer journey map are actually highly variable based on the type of customer journey map being constructed. Below is a sample list of the most common types of customer journey maps.

Existing Types of Customer Journey Maps:

1) Current state map
2) Future state map
3) Macro map (strategic),
4) Micro-level map (tactical)
5) User experience maps
6) Customer emotion map
7) Day in the life map

This new and more effective quantifiable customer journey map I will cover takes into account many of the following from above (1-4) plus something new & innovative:

1) Current state map
2) Future state map
3) Macro-map (strategic)
4) Micro-level map (tactical)
5) New & Innovative: Quantifiable current state of customer health across all journey phases.

This last customer journey map component (5) is missing from many other customer journey maps but has been incorporated into this new quantifiable customer journey map. This new method in my opinion is by far the most comprehensive snapshot you can take of current customer health as well as simultaneously taking into account both macro and micro customer journey map components. This new method also integrates customer service mapping in a single synergistic exercise.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map Detail Components (x-axis)

The first component of the quantifiable customer journey map exists along the top (horizontal) portion of the map, representing the major stages the customer transits through in a common customer journey. Customer journey phases exist along the x-axis commonly for many, but not all, customer journey maps. Typically several major top-level (level 1.0) customer journeys exist to document critical and common customer paths such as new customer, renewing customer, customer obtaining customer service, etc. Depicted below are the major phases (level 1.0) for a new customer journey for a client who sells SaaS market analytics/AI software. Remember, a customer journey map is a structural framework that, no matter the type variation, should always be constructed from the customer’s (vs. the company’s) viewpoint.

Quantifiable Customer Map Journey Customer Stages (x-axis)

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map Detail Components (y-axis)
The y-axis of the quantifiable customer journey map contains the following components (developed from the customer’s perspective and via customer direct input):
1) Sub Level Customer Journeys – The level 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. sub-journeys that the customer experiences as they typically transit each phase of the top 1.0 level customer journey.
2) New! Top 2-3 Customer Needs and Drivers – Driven by direct customer input and feedback, the top 2-3 needs and drivers (i.e. what is most important) for each phase of the customer journey
3) New! Customer Ratings and Metrics (rating scale of 1.0 to 5.0) – Driven by direct customer input and feedback, the current (snapshot) quantification of the top 2-3 customer needs and drivers for each phase of the customer journey.
4) Current State Best Practices – Driven by direct customer input and feedback, the top best practices that are operating well within each phase of the customer journey. These best practices should be retained and continuously improved to maintain a competitive edge.
5) Suggested Future State Programs – A comprehensive review of the current state gaps for each customer journey phase such that future state customer experience programs can be implemented to improve customer satisfaction levels.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map Framework Components (y-axis)

Sub-Micro Customer Journeys
The first detail in the y-axis customer journey is the documentation of which customer sub-journeys can be broken down to the 1.1, 1.2, etc. level for each major (level 1.0) customer journey phase. For example, under the first customer journey stage of “Customer Purchases”, there exists the sub-phases (level 1.1) of the following:
1.1 Customer Discovery (we will show an example of this sublevel drill-down later in this article)
1.2 Customer Deep Dive Q&A
1.3 Customer Trial/Evaluation
1.4 Customer Explores Purchase Options
1.5 Customer Contract Evaluation, negotiation, closure
1.6 Customer On-Boarding Preparation
We detail how to drill down and further detail these customer journey sub-phases later in this article.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Customer Stage Sub-Journeys (y-axis, row 1)

The next two intricately tied y-axis components (rows 2 & 3) are the key components in this quantifiable customer journey:

1) The Top 2-3 Customer Needs and Drivers (Row 2) (for each 1.0 level customer journey phase):
These are determined by querying a cross segment of customers (via customer feedback-focus groups) about what is most important to them during that particular customer journey phase. These key customer needs and drivers then formulate the current state metrics that need to be, not only collected in an as-is current state assessment, but also collected systemically moving forward via automated customer health dashboards to determine ongoing and longitudinal customer health.
Continuing the drill down on the 1st phase, “Customer Purchases”, we find that customers are most concerned with, in order of importance:
a) How well the software covers their business requirements and business use cases (vs. price when against business requirements coverage %)
b) The Quality Perception of the Product/Brand/Company they are buying into for enterprise level software
c) Ease of Doing Business with the Company/Brand they are doing business with. Described another way in focus groups “we want to buy software from a company that values and respects our time and is easy (and a pleasure) to do business with”

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Top 2-3 Customer Needs and Drivers (y-axis, row 2)

2) The Current State Customer Ratings and Metrics (Row 3) (for each of the top customer phases needs and drivers):
This component is the current state quantification of the top 2-3 customer relevant measures from above as determined via direct customer measurement. In continuing with the previous example we find that the quantification of the top 3 measures for this particular client were as follows:
a) Price vs. functional fit index rating of 3.8 which indicates the company is meeting most of the needs of their customer’s use cases and needs. This client thought it important to gauge price along with functional fit rather than succumb to the ‘build it at any price’ product management quagmire.
b) Quality Perception index rating by customers of 1.9 is a low and concerning score that needs to be rectified
c) The ease of doing business CSAT score of 3.3 which, while slightly above average, still warrants some focus for improvement.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Customer Ratings and Metrics (y-axis, row 3)

As previously mentioned, once the current state snapshot is taken via the customer journey mapping process, the top 2-3 customer needs and drivers need to be incorporated into an overall automated “customer health metrics dashboard” that systemically and automatically tracks and monitors these metrics across all level 1.0 customer journey phases.

The quantification of customer health across all customer journey stages can quickly point to areas needing major improvements like the 2nd stage (“Customer On-boards”) highlighted in red below. Of particular concern is the very low metric of “Brand Support Education” at a rating of 1.7.

Next up are the yellow highlighted areas of 1 – “Customer Purchases” and 3 – “Customer Uses” and are the 2nd area where customer average phase ratings are less than superior (3.0 and 3.4 respectively). Of particular concern under the 1 -“Customer Purchases” stage is the low customer rating for the intra-phase detailed metric of “Quality Perception” with a score of 1.9.

Best Practice: Many companies often use the customer journey phase total metric as a measure of customer health (i.e. 1 -“Customer Purchases” and 3- “Customer Uses” ratings of 3.0 and 3.4 respectively), but a best practice is to also measure customer journey intra-phase sub-metrics like “Quality Perception” (rating of 1.9) under “Customer Purchases”. In this manner major specific and critically important customer service sub-processes can be measured and adjusted to ensure their continued effective operation.

Lastly, stages highlighted in green are 4 – “Customer Engages Brand”, 5 – “Customer Engages Support” and 6 – “Customer Renews “might be subject to ongoing continuous improvement since they are approaching superior ratings (3.8 averages for all 3 phases).

The sum totals of all level 1.0 ratings are as follows:
1 – Customer Purchases – 3.0
2 – Customer On-Boards – 1.7
3 – Customer Uses – 3.4
4 – Customer Engages Brand – 3.8
5 – Customer Engages Support – 3.8
6 – Customer Renews – 3.8
For an executive summary dashboard metric of 3.25 ((3.0+1.7+3.4+3.8+3.8+3.8)/6) for all level 1.0 customer journeys.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Highlighted Customer Ratings and Metrics (y-axis, row 3)

Full view of Customer Needs & Drivers with Ratings and Metrics (y-axis, row 3 & 4)

While the next two sections might appear to be constructed from the company’s point of view, these were carefully constructed via direct customer feedback and inquiry. By asking a cross section of customers a series of multi-dimensional questions (sample questions* below) these highly valuable insights were cultivated.

*Sample questions: “what is working well?”, “what were the top factors in your purchase (or renewal) decision?”, “what were the detractors in your decision to purchase (or renew)?”, “what else could we do to improve our functionality, processes, capabilities”, “what is missing vs. what you consider our competitor’s best practice?”, “what did you like most about the renewal process?”, etc..

While this inquiry results in additional cost and extends the timeline in the development of a customer journey map, the value of the insights generated are worth 2x-20x the investment.

Existing Best Practices (Row 4)
The next row (4) in the quantifiable customer journey map is the top best practices that are operating effectively and efficiently within each phase of the customer journey. These best practices should be maintained and continuously improved in order to maintain a competitive edge. Continuing with the drill-down on the 1st, “Customer Purchases” customer journey phase, we find the following best practices being employed that should be maintained and continuously improved:
1) Maintaining functionality considered within the top 5% of all competitors as rated by (name of rating company purposely omitted, client confidential).
2) Maintaining and continuously improving the flexible and highly optioned payment purchase plans.
3) Maintaining and strengthening the Gartner relationship such that we remain on their radar in a favorable way, get top recommendations for adoptions, market ratings.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Existing Best Practices to Maintain, Strengthen (y-axis, row 4)

Suggested Future Changes (Row 5)
The next row (5) in the quantifiable customer journey map is the top “Suggested Future Programs” that need to be implemented within each phase of the Level 1.0 customer journey map. Continuing with the drill-down on the 1st, “Customer Purchases” phase, we find the following improvement programs should be implemented:
1) In addition to the strong relationship we have with Gartner, maintaining and strengthening the relationship with several other top respected & independent software reviewer companies (names client confidential) such that we remain on their radars in a favorable way, get top recommendations for adoptions, market ratings.
2) Perform a multi-dimensional performance and “solution comprehensiveness” benchmark study vs. other top competitors and publish in a white paper and publish to 3rd party reviewers.
3) Continue to build out our product road map with the top rated desired customer functionality, taking into account the PY business case for the build-out of these functions.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,
Suggested Future Improvement Programs (y-axis, row 5)

Customer Journey Micro Stage Drill-Down (1.0 –> 1.1)
In order to fully document the customer journey process, it is important to drill down and document all major customer journey sub-levels where the customer receives a major different customer experience based on path chosen to fulfill their needs. The sections following demonstrate this technique and components but does not fully show all of the quantification components (y-axis) as shown in the above examples.

Below is the depiction of the mapping of the 1st customer journey phase of “Customer Purchases” under level 1.0 into the journey map that covers these sub-phases in customer journey map level 1.1

The sub-phases under this 1.1 level consist of the following:
1.1.1 Customer Discovery
1.1.2 Customer Deep Dive Q&A
1.1.3 Customer Trial/Evaluation
1.1.4 Customer Discusses Purchase Options
1.1.5 Customer Contract Evaluation, Negotiation, Closure
1.1.6 Customer On-boarding Preparation

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.0,”Customer Purchases”
Drill-Down to Level 1.1 Customer Journeys

Customer Journey Micro Sub-Stage Drill-Down (1.0 –> 1.1–> 1.2.1)
Here is the depiction of the drill down to the level 1.1 “Customer Discover” sub-phase under level 1.0 “Customer Purchases” that further details these sub-phases as follows:
Customer:
1.2.1 Visits Website
1.2.2 Calls Sales Team
1.2.3 Calls Account Team
1.2.4 Completes Web Query Form to Learn More
1.2.5 Requests 3rd party attestation information
1.2.6 Requests software demonstration (variants: scripted or unscripted)
These sublevels then can be further detailed and documented down to the 1.2.1.1 levels if necessary.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Level 1.1,”Customer Discovery”
Drill-Down to Level 1.2.x Customer Sub-Journeys

Hierarchy of Strategic Customer Journey Map to Tactical Map to Customer Service Map
Here is the full depiction of the hierarchy of the top level customer journey map major phases down to the sub-levels as well as to the service map we developed to document and diagnose how well the company was delivering upon their service level commitments and requirements (SLAs). Again, note that the customer journey map is typically and mostly from the customer’s viewpoint while the service map is constructed from an internal standpoint of HOW that service is provided to the customer.

One key take-away from this is that the service map documentation should align to the lowest logical level of customer journey map as to document all service map path permutations in order to ensure adequate customer service coverage as well as to document any gaps in the variants of service that are provided to the customer.

Quantifiable Customer Journey Map, Relationship & Hierarchy from Level 1.0 to Level 1.1 to Level 1.2 to the Customer Service Map Detail

Best Practice Customer Service Map
Here is a depiction of a portion of the customer service map that aligns to the 1.2.x level of the customer journey map. While this graphic is not the full service map for “Customer Discovery”, it illustrates the major components of a service map. The service map is constructed from an internal standpoint of HOW that service is provided to the customer via the various methods and channels.

A future blog topic will cover more in-depth the best practices associated with the development of a customer service map, following on from this specific client example.

Best Practice Customer Service Map Example

Summary:

In summary, measuring your customer experience quality/effectiveness must be guided by a set of effective best practice tools, diagnostic techniques as well as a solid methodology. The use of customer service maps and customer journeys with embedded customer experience journey analytics is an emerging best practice to accomplish this goal. The new tool of a “Quantifiable Customer Journey Map” is being introduced as the latest tool in the toolkit for customer experience architects and professionals to address gaps in previous customer journey map’s framework designs (measurement of customer health). In the practice of developing a customer journey map, the customer’s viewpoint, input and feedback is critical to developing any credibility and value.

By utilizing this new quantifiable customer journey tool and methodology there are vast improvements to be uncovered and implemented that will enable your company to leapfrog the competition and to become the market leader in customer service delivery. Market leading companies like Apple, American Express, Costco, Zappos, Intuit, Southwest Airlines, Wegmans have all adopted this customer first viewpoint and company culture and have benefitted tremendously by doing so. With all of the benefit to be achieved by your company, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating a better customer experience and adopting this new & innovative tool and associated methodology by assessing your customer health via the quantifiable customer journey map.

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in assessing the state of your customer health including best practices, gaps, top & relevant customer measures and future state program design then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com.

Lastly, this is just one article of over 50 articles I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 107,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/.

Company Market Leadership via ABC Alignment: Archetype, Brand, Customer

How a company’s primary Archetype drives an authentic brand and the delivery of exceptional customer service and customer experiences

After being hired as a consultant and researching numerous companies, I have discovered the following as to why some achieve market leadership while others do not. What I have discovered is that market leading companies like Amazon, Intuit, American Express, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Wegmans, Gartner, Nielsen, Lego, Hallmark, Disney, etc., have all achieved a high degree of alignment between their ABCs – their organizational Archetype, their corporate Brand and their Customer presence. They are all authentically aligned, in-synch and balanced both internally through the experienced corporate culture as well as externally through the brand and customer experience. Through my experience with many companies and brands I have also found that when these items are misaligned or not balanced, there is a negative reaction to company by the employees, customers and stakeholders.

To draw an analogy to people you meet, ask yourself, if you have ever meet or run into someone who meets the following characteristics:

1) Is a self-proclaimed advocate for protecting against sexual harassment and then makes inappropriate glances or comments as an attractive person passes by?
2) Describes themselves as a person of tolerance and acceptance but speaks in a manner that is condescending or hurtful to others, etc.?
3) Maintains they are for protecting the environment, global warming, etc. but in practice they throw litter onto the sidewalk or out of their car window and have a older automobile that pollutes a great deal?

If you have, you might walk away saying the following:

“That was totally unexpected!”
“They are a phony, fake”
“That person was totally disingenuous, not authentic!”

Not surprisingly, the same thing happens upon interacting with inauthentic companies as follows:

1 The company states that their customers are their #1 focus yet their delivered customer service is horrible and totally frustrates their customers.
2 The company indicates that they are for the environment from a corporate culture perspective, but print many of their marketing and other materials on physical paper stock and is not recycling on a systemic and/or widespread basis.
3 The company’s advertisements are very funny, engaging and/or professional, yet customers are offended and upset when they interact with the company’s rude and apathetic customer service representatives.
4 The company states that their culture promotes employee work life balance, but as an employee, you hardly ever see you family due to crushing workloads.

As a customer or as an employee, you’re likely to have the same reflex as when you encounter an inauthentic person. You would probably react by registering your displeasure with the company and avoid the next interaction or defect from the company as soon as possible.  

In stark contrast, companies who are market leaders achieve what I call authentic ABC alignment. In this, there is perfect alignment and synergy between their ABCs as follows:
1) Archetype (company’s main personality, attributes)
2) Brand (projected company image (external) and reflected culture (internal))
3) Customer service and experience delivery (company attitude, manners, empathy, etc.)

The following chart illustrated this perfect ABC alignment:

ABC Alignment, Balance, Authenticity

Organizational Archetypes represents a company’s dominant personality types, sometimes driven disproportionally by the CEO or CxO team in the case of smaller companies. The organization’s archetype is the true identity and personality of the company, who they truly are, what makes them go from a strengths perspective, what shadows hold them back, etc. These archetype traits are hidden to an organization until revealed through the lens of analysis tools like “CultureTalk” (https://culturetalk.com/). Performing a “CultureTalk” Analysis applies a set of lenses to be able to clearly reveal, in 20/20 clarity, a set of a company’s main personality types. Below is a chart that reveals the 12 Archetypes that a company can align to as well as examples of companies that align to each Archetype.

12 CultureTalk Archetypes, with Organizational Examples

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung used the word “archetype” to refer to the recurring patterns found in our universal stories. He identified the themes, symbols, and imagery as part of the human psyche. More recently, Dr. Carol Pearson built out Jung’s work with a body of research that examined archetypal attributes within organizations. CultureTalk, based on the work of Jung and Pearson, takes centuries of understanding and translates it for today’s business leaders. The result is a framework of 12 Archetypes that a company can align to in terms of its dominant personality type(s).

Organizationally, CultureTalk assessments answers the questions: What type of company are we, what do we stand for, what dominant traits represent the authentic company? There aren’t good or bad Organizational Archetypes, but each has a strength and shadow side that we need to understand in order to drive maximized organizational effectiveness.

12 CultureTalk Archetypes, Highlight: Lego Organizational Example

Lego Creator Archetype

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

As an illustration, the Creator Archetype above is described in the graphic below is focused on “the creation of things, ideas, approaches, experiences, art work and solutions” and is well represented by the very familiar and popular company Lego. Below is a more detailed description of the main characteristics (strengths) of this Creator Archetype.

The Creator Organizational Archetype

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Lego is in perfect alignment and balance with this Archetype, driven by invention, creation, designing, dreaming, etc.

The shadows of a creator Archetype company like Lego are as follows:

Creator Organizational Archetype Shadows

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk.

The full list of strengths and shadows of a creator Archetype company like Lego are as follows:

Full List of Creator Archetype Strengths and Shadows

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

It is important that a company’s Brand image be in authentic alignment with their main Archetypes, otherwise they are striving to portray an image that is out of alignment with their main personality type – trying to portray as something they are inherently not, being inauthentic to the world. This brand image is manifested in two different dimensions as follows:


1) Outside the company: The image that is being presented to the world, it stakeholders, employees, customers, etc.
2) Inside the company: The image reflected via its experienced company culture

In order to be an authentic company, it is important for a company to have its brand in alignment with its dominant Archetypes, otherwise they are portraying themselves as something they are not truly comfortable with, something they are not, being inauthentic to their main personality types and strengths.

Continuing the Lego example, we see perfect and authentic alignment with their main archetype and their brand messaging.

About the Lego Brand

Source: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group

The Lego Brand supports driving of innovation and creativity to their customer base which encourages the creator individual archetypes. For the public to be comfortable with the brand they have to be truly and heartfelt dedicated toward driving the creativity and the passions of their customer’s creator archetypes.

About the Lego Culture

Source: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group/the-lego-brand

The C stands for the manner in which a company delivers its Customer service and Customer experiences. Continuing with the previous Lego Creator Archetype, here is a customer service example of how the Lego Customer Brand and Culture is driving an equally consistent and authentic creator customer experience.

Here is a letter sent to Lego by a 7 year old boy named Luka who is a Lego customer regarding him losing one of his Lego figures.

Letter to Lego Customer Service

Source: “https://beloved-brands.com/2016/06/18/lego-letter”

Here is the skillfully crafted reply to Luka, written in a manner that is completely in alignment with and, appealing to, Luka’s creator archetype.

Letter from Lego Customer Service

Source: “https://beloved-brands.com/2016/06/18/lego-letter”

The article from Beloved Brands, where this information was sourced from, notes:

“For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand. And it’s a great example of going above and beyond. What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter. The dad ended up tweeting about the story, lots of viral hits and then picked up in the mainstream media including TV and newspapers in the UK, US, and Canada. And now millions are reading about this story (including you right now.)”

Equally important as the exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service going viral and generating a great deal of positive company and brand buzz, is that the tone and manner in which the customer service letter is written. The letter was masterfully crafted to be in perfect alignment with the organization’s primary Creator archetype, but simultaneously encourages and supports the customer’s (Luka’s) creator Archetype.

Here are additional examples of authentic alignment between an organization’s primary archetype and their brand and/or customer service and experience delivery;

1) When interacting with Disney, we expect authentic customer interactions to deliver magical and exciting customer experiences due to their primary organizational archetype being a Magician.

Source: The Disney Institute, Service Policy

The above service guidelines could have been written in the typical boring manner like many other company directives as follows:

1) We will make eye contact and smile when encountering any of our guests.
2) We will welcome each Disney guest with the following greeting “xxxx” upon meeting them.
3) Etc., etc.

Disney instead wrote these in a way to communicate the service standard, but did so in a way consistent with the Magician Archetype by illustrating the Magic of the Disney characters and how they bring magical experiences to the children who visit their venues.

The service guideline that illustrates the consistency with Magician Archetype the best above is #6. This service guideline specifically references the delivery a “magical guest experience” and reinforces the concept that Disney delivers magic (as you would expect from a Magician Archetype) via both their company brand and through their customer delivered experiences.

Magician Organizational Archetype Strengths

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Wegmans Everyperson Archetype

2) When interacting with Wegmans food markets, we would expect all branding and employee/customer communications to be authentically in alignment with the Everyperson archetype. Indeed their values reflect this and even display the words in the values “every person”.

Wegmans Values

Source: “https://www.wegmans.com/about-us/company-overview”

Colleen Wegman, Wegmans Letter

Source: “https://thezebra.org/2020/06/01/wegmans-is-increasing-their-hours-of-operation-as-they-adapt-to-phase-i”

This employee communication from CEO Colleen Wegman is also in perfect alignment with the Everyperson archetype with the above telltale words “all of you”, “trying time for everyone”, “people – our suppliers, employees, customers, community partners -…”, “every one of you”. Again, Wegmans is a great example where they have perfect ABC alignment, authenticity.

Everyperson Organizational Archetype Strengths

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

3) When calling Nielsen or Gartner for B2B expert research or insights, we expect the brand and customer experience to be highly insightful, informed, based on analytical research – all characteristics of the Sage organizational Archetype.

Gartner Products

Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/products

About Gartner

https://www.gartner.com/en/products

About Nielsen 1

About Nielsen 2

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/about-us/

Both Gartner and Nielsen also demonstrate that they are authentic to their archetype and maintain ABC alignment and authenticity.

Sage Organizational Archetype Strengths

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

4) When interacting with the Apple Brand, we would expect the customer interactions to be reflective of a culture that is about inventing new and radically different/innovative products and experiences by challenging the status quo. These innovative and inventive characteristics are all telltale signs of the Revolutionary organizational Archetype.

About Apple 1

Source: https://www.apple.com/jobs/us/about.html

About Apple 2

Source: https://www.apple.com/jobs/us/about.html

The way Apple has reflected the Revolutionary Archetype is via its release of new and innovative products we previously thought weren’t possible. It started with the Apple I and Apple II computers and went onto the LaserWriter, the iPod, the iTunes Store, iPhone, ipad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, etc. The release of these was accomplished with total alignment to their Brand and to the customer experience standards.  

Sample Apple New Product Innovations

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/apples-origins-an-oral-history-from-inside-the-loop/

Revolutionary Organizational Archetype Strengths

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Hallmark Lover Archetype

5) Hallmark, per their culture statement, believes that “care” and creating an “emotionally connected world” are the driving forces behind their delivered customer experiences and are the passions of the Lover Archetype.

About the Hallmark Company

Source: “https://corporate.hallmark.com/about/hallmark-cards-company/”

About the Hallmark Culture

Source: “https://corporate.hallmark.com/culture/hallmark-family/”

Lover Organizational Archetype Strengths

Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

What all of this demonstrates is the rule of customer service cultural archetype delivery, stated as follows:

Top Customer Service Companies –> Culture Alignment

Once you have determined your corporate Archetype via a tool like CultureTalk, the best way to ensure that both your brand and customer experience is in alignment is by direct measurement. For this measurement, I recommend a solution category called “Experience Management Measurement”. This enables companies to measure the experience for brand-products as well as the customer. One market leading tool I have encountered and recommend highly is Qualtrics (https://www.qualtrics.com/). Qualtrics was Named #1 Leader in Experience Management Measurement in Industry-Leading Product Rankings*. Qualtrics can assist you in the measurement of both brand and customer alignment by simply querying both your market and customers on their perceptions on brand and customer authenticity, perceived consistency, etc.

*Source: https://www.qualtrics.com/news/qualtrics-named-1-leader-in-experience-management-in-industry-leading-product-ranking/

Summary/Conclusion:

Just like successful people who are inherently highly consistent and authentic: values, personality, interests, actions, manners, spoken language, etc., the same consistency-authenticity driven success applies to companies. Companies that drive a totally consistent and authentic market presence tend to achieve ABC alignment: Archetype, Brand messaging, and Customer presence.

Without ABC alignment, the company appears to be disingenuous to the public and to their customers – trying to be something they are not per their primary Archetype. Only those achieving perfect alignment become market leaders as in our examples of Lego, Gartner, Nielsen, Disney, Apple, Wegmans, Hallmark, etc.

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in deploying legendary levels of culturally aligned customer service, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com. I have also recently become a certified CultureTalk consultant, ready to help your company transform into a high performing and market leading (legendary) customer focused culture http://www.legendarycx.com

Lastly, this is just one article of over 50 articles I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies. In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 107,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Create Elated Customers for Life by Delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

The following is what you will learn by reading this blog:

  1. The main business capabilities for a company to possess to deliver superb and legendary customer service

  2. The most critical capabilities to develop in order to enable your front-line employees to be able to deliver excellent customer service

  3. The introduction of the concept and definition of Surprise & Delight Customer Service and how the world’s top customer service companies deliver this consistently

  4. Examples of the best Surprise & Delight Customer Service that I have personally encountered and how they are linked to the critical components listed in #2 above

  5. Top customer service companies considered to be world-class in delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

  6. The programs you need to implement so that your company can deliver consistent Surprise & Delight Customer Service to your customers

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SECTION 1: Benefits of having elated, “surprised and delighted”, customers:

The research I have conducted indicates that truly elated customers, who are consistently surprised by the level of service they receive from your company, go on to tell multiple friends, relatives, acquaintances, co-workers about your company, products/services and stories of their great experiences interacting with your company. This grass roots customer advocacy transforms your customers from just your customers into infectious and 24×7 adjunct company sales and marketing agents, convincing people they interact with to buy from your company.

Additional research also shows that this customer transformation does not come when they rate your company and service as merely “Satisfied” but rather only when a customer is elated and rates your customer service with a 7 , or “Extremely satisfied”, rating as shown here:

Sample Customer Service Ratings

Sample Customer Service Ratings

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The following graph illustrates the correlation between the rating provided by a customer on their customer service and the strength of their company advocacy and likeliness to recommend a company.

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company

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SECTION 2: Capabilities required to deliver exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service:

There are more than 10 dimensions in developing and delivering customer service excellence including the following:

  1. Development of a customer-oriented vision and strategy.

  2. Development of service excellence standards that are institutionalized across the enterprise.

  3. Development and maintenance of a company culture that drives team unity and focus as well as customer service excellence and a mindset of customers first.

  4. Implementation of a customer errors, omissions and anomaly recovery processes.

  5. Implementation of a customer experience and customer service excellence measurement system.

  6. Inclusion of customers in helping define and develop the final customer management capabilities, content, methods, etc.

  7. Implementation of a customer bill of rights and non-negotiable customer standards.

  8. Development of customer emotional connection points based on customer journeys.

  9. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  10. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

  11. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes.

While all of the above are important I feel that the last three are of critical importance in making customers consistently extremely satisfied.  In the next section we will cover the definition of surprise and delight customer service and share real examples of its delivery across many service-related industries.

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SECTION 3 – Surprise & Delight definition, examples:

Surprise and delight customer service is consistently going well above and beyond customer expectations such that customers feel both surprised and delighted by their treatment & level of service by your company.

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Here are some examples of where I have personally encountered surprise & delight customer service:

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1) Hotels:

A) High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid, NY: I recently checked into the High Peaks Resort in the Adirondack Mountains during the time of my birthday.  The front desk has a champagne reception for all incoming guests. When we were offered champagne, my wife told them that we were celebrating my birthday.  The attendant responded by saying, “we will take care of it” and took the glasses away. I said to my wife, “that was confusing as they said we will take care of it” and then promptly took our glasses from us.   We got to our room shortly thereafter and heard a knock on the door. It was a service attendant with a bottle of champagne and a personalized birthday card signed by the front desk staff. Talk about surprise and delight customer service!! We were so impressed! Obviously, this resort embraces and understands the importance of S&DCS as described in #11 below.

  1. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the High Peaks Resort:

  1. They really care about their customers.

  2. This hotel really goes out of their way to make their customer’s stay memorable.

  3. They know how to make a customer smile.

  4. That just made my day.

Bottom line, I felt emotionally connected to the hotel and its employees following this treatment and felt like it was in business to make their customers happy vs. merely making $$$.

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY

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As a global consultant I have had my share of extended stays at Marriott hotels. Here are a couple of surprise and delight stories that I have always remembered:

B) Marriott Shelton, CT.   I stayed at the Shelton, CT Marriott for nearly 8 months, typically staying from Sunday to Friday. When the hotel wasn’t busy for the weekend, they blocked out my room for reservations and let me keep many of my belongings in my room so I didn’t have to pack & unpack each week and could feel at home upon returning.  While away, they would gather all my dirty clothes for dry cleaning and have them hanging in my room closet upon my return.  On my last evening at the hotel the hotel staff threw me a surprise farewell party! They paid for everything – dinner, drinks, etc.  Talk about taking care of the customer with true surprise and delight service! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Shelton Marriott:

  1. I’d recommend this hotel to anybody.

  2. They really appreciate a customer’s business.

  3. I have never been treated so well by a hotel.

  4. What a welcoming place to stay – they made me feel at home!

C) Marriott Princeton, Princeton NJ: Another extended stay required me to stay at the Princeton, NJ Marriott for 7 months.  One evening I was entertaining clients at the bar after a day of numerous long meetings. One client was fond of Remy Martin King Louis XIII cognac which sold for about $145 per shot at the time. A tradition of Marriott was, that if you had the last shot from the bottle, they give you the bottle, made from Baccarat crystal.   My client ordered three shots over the course of several hours which emptied the bottle. The bartender, being new, said he never heard of giving such an expensive bottle away and refused to provide the bottle to my client. I complained to no avail as the bartender refused to budge. The next morning while dressing, I heard a knock at the door, and it was the hotel GM with the empty bottle of King Louis XIII as well an additional half full bottle. He asked me to accept his sincere apology for a relatively new and untrained bartender who was filling in the previous evening and promptly gave me the two bottles. Needless to say, my client was thrilled by this surprise and delight turn of customer service events!! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS also came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal Village:

  1. That general manager is a class act and knows how to run a hotel.

  2. I was shocked that my disappointment wasn’t the end of the story and it turned into a positive event I will talk about for years.

  3. It was refreshing that they admitted a mistake and then went above and beyond to make it right.

  4. Wow! Talk about doing a 360 and turning a disgruntled customer into a surprised and delighted one!

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ

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C) Marriott Philadelphia West, Conshohocken, PA (Philadelphia suburb): I was a senior executive at a consulting company in Conshohocken and traveled into the area frequently. The first several times in the area I stayed in several different hotels trying to find one that I liked. Since I was previously a Marriott top tier rewards member, I decided to give the Marriott Philadelphia West in Conshohocken, PA a try. The first time I stayed, I didn’t use the concierge lounge.  On my second visit, I did use the lounge in the evening and I fell in love with the place because of one incredible (a 1 in 1,000,000 person) great human being and Marriott employee.

The person’s name is Luigi and he not only manages the concierge lounge, he IS the concierge lounge and is the epitome of what a customer should experience at every concierge lounge across the globe. Luigi has been the manager of the lounge for many years and when possible, I go out of my way to stay at this hotel due because of his level of exceptional service.  Luigi always remembers my name, my wife’s name (even though he never met her), my favorite drink, food likes, dislikes, etc. I could be away from the hotel for many months and yet he always provides a warm friendly welcome” “Hello Mr. Jeffes – so nice to see you again!!” as he gives me a hug. He will tell you about all the appetizers and desserts being served that evening and then suggests some favorites. He entertains his guests by playing movies during movie night in the lounge. When he first introduced movie nights, he used his own money to provide the DVDs. Luigi clearly goes above and beyond and I can recall many surprise and delight moments where Luigi delivered superb customer service to me and many other guests. When you’re a road warrior like I was at the time, it’s the little things that make all the difference.  Seeing Luigi who makes a Marriott feel like your home and provides a relaxing haven when traveling, always puts a smile on my face. Luigi has surprise and delight customer service ingrained in his DNA and I have lost count of the number of times I have encountered this from him. One occasion stands out more than others in that I had an unusually dreadful day with many things not going as planned. I started early this day and worked unusually longer into the evening. I hadn’t slept much the night before and I was tired, hungry and feeling the pressure of the awful day I just had. When I went into Luigi’s concierge lounge, Luigi immediately picked up on my unusually sour mood as I must not have greeted him in the usual upbeat manner. He immediately sprung into gear, taking the following actions:

  1. Unsolicited, inquired of the front desk if there were any upgrades to a suite for me that evening.

  2. Asked if he could order my dinner to have it sent right to the lounge or my room.

  3. Handed me my favorite drink without asking.

  4. Since the lounge was very empty that night, asked me what I wanted on the television so I could unwind.

  5. Got me a hot towel to wipe my face and relax.

As a result, I started to immediately forget about the crappy day I had just had and started to feel myself relax. After about 30-45 minutes I was back to my old happy self with the experience of a bad day a distant memory.

What would happen to your service-oriented business if you had a Luigi? Your business volume and customer following would explode! Your customer loyalty would increase and customer service would become a distinct and immeasurable competitive advantage.

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Luigi is a natural at delivering exceptional customer service and this 1 in 1,000,000 person and service comes as a result of Marriott getting lucky enough to hire someone so exceptional. How do I know? I have stayed at Marriott properties and other hotels across the US and have not met anyone that even comes close to delivering the level of service that Luigi does.

By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Luigi:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded when it comes to Luigi and his level of service:

  1. I’d drive a long distance out of my way to spend a relaxing evening with Luigi.

  2. Luigi is a 1 in a 1,000,000 in terms of delivering exceptional customer service.

  3. Marriott is so lucky to have Luigi working for them.

  4. If Luigi were to become the head of training for all Marriott service employees, Marriott would blow away their competition in terms of delivering exceptional S&D customer service.

I won’t list the thoughts and emotions for the remainder of my S&D examples, but the point is that delivering exceptional customer service delivers a lasting and positive emotional connection between the brand, product/service and with the customer.

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel

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  1. Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, NYC. Ritz-Carlton is one of the top models for superior customer service world-wide and was a client in the past. Ritz-Carlton trains all of its employees to spot a customer opportunity in that they are trained to listen to and record each customer’s individual needs, issues, preferences, wants, wishes, etc. Employees are then empowered to deliver the type of service the customer wants without having to ask.

 

A great example is upon arriving at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, NYC a number of years ago, I remember casually saying to the bellman, among other topics, that I loved the view of lower Manhattan and that I didn’t eat on the plane.  I had just flown in from San Francisco. Upon checking in, the woman at the front desk smiled and called me by name before I mentioned it, told me that she arranged a high room with a beautiful view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and said she arranged for a snack to be waiting for me free of charge when I arrived at my room.  She said, “I heard that you didn’t have a chance to eat on your way here”. All of this was noted by the bellman and passed onto the front desk without my knowledge to deliver Surprise and Delight Customer Service upon check-in, something Ritz-Carlton is legendary at providing. I would consider Ritz-Carlton the platinum standard for delivering S&DCS as they possess and effectively deploy all 11 of the customer service excellence capabilities listed above. Their excellent service is not by luck or chance; it is ingrained in their culture and at the center of Ritz-Carton’s core values, policies and processes.

 

2) Restaurants:

A) Water’ s Edge Lighthouse, Schenectady, NY:

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

There are two local restaurants that my wife and I have frequented that have world-class professionals working at them. The first is the Water’s Edge Lighthouse in Schenectady, NY who employs a gentleman named Greg.  We had originally met Greg at another restaurant that sadly closed. Greg is the type of individual that remembers your name when you arrive, makes you feel at home when he is serving you, makes conversation about you and your family and takes every chance to ensure you are having a great experience. He gets to know his all of his many 100’s of customers by name and goes out of his way to anticipate and suggest my next need as I am in the process of thinking about it. My wife and I now call this level of customer service “the Greg standard”.  One time, we arrived on a Saturday night, having made a reservation earlier in the week.  Somehow the reservation had been misplaced and the restaurant was full.  When Greg learned of the situation, he said to me, “don’t worry we have you covered” and then made room for us in very short order when the place was absolutely packed. Talk about surprise and delight customer service. There was zero questioning of me about whether I had forgotten to make a reservation, which I hadn’t since I recorded the name of the person who confirmed and the time of day when I called).  Greg and the team just made it right.

Like Luigi, you would be lucky to hire someone like Greg, but you’ll need a lot of luck as he too, is one in a million.  By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Greg:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Greg with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey

Greg (left) with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey

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B) Mario’s New Lebanon, NY:

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Sarah from Mario’s in New Lebanon, NY is another person who stands out as meeting “the Greg Standard” with her warmth, professionalism and exceptional service.  Sarah gets to know each of her customer’s names, likes, food and drink preferences.  She remembers the new wine that you tasted the last time you were in and makes everyone feel special.  We sometimes don’t even have to look at the menu as she will recommend a special that she thinks we will like or asks if we are ordering one of our known favorites.  At peak hours, Sarah handles customer requests with a sense of calm and professionalism. When she is serving numerous drinks, dinners and taking orders in person and via phone, she always finds time to smile and accommodate requests, chat, ask questions, etc.

My surprise and delight example from Sarah came when I atypically came in without a reservation due to a change in schedule.  Sarah looked at me and said they were full and then said, if you can wait a minute, I’ll see what I can do. Sarah did her magic and creatively asked the customers if they could move down to accommodate another guest which they all surprisingly and enthusiastically did.  Sarah has a “following” that enjoy dining at the bar when she is working.  Due to her pleasant demeanor and professionalism, I was able to get a spot for dinner, and even though the bar had squeezed in one more person, Sarah handled everything without a hitch and made me feel welcome.  Over the years, customers have shared with me that one of the main reasons they go to Mario’s is because of Sarah and the great food. Just like Luigi does for the Marriott Philadelphia West and Greg does for the Water’s Edge Lighthouse, Sarah’s presence adds to the overall experience of enjoying a delicious meal in a great atmosphere at Mario’s. Luigi, Greg and Sarah are all 1 in a 1,000,000 service professionals who are naturals at surprise and delight customer service and you’d be extremely lucky to hire someone like them.

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

3)

3) Retail:

 A) Amazon:

Amazon
Amazon

There is a now famous story brought to light by the New York Times titled “Put Buyers First? What a Concept”. It details how a customer, by no fault of their own, didn’t receive a shipment of a PlayStation for his son just before the holidays. Here is an excerpt from this article and a potentially disastrous situation was turned into a surprise and delight customer service moment: “It was early in the morning, and I had awoken with the sudden, sinking realization that a present I had bought for one of my sons hadn’t yet arrived. It wasn’t just any present either; it was a PlayStation 3, a $500 item, and a gift, I happened to know from my sources, that he was hoping for. Like most things I buy online, the PlayStation had come from Amazon.com. So I went to the site and tracked the package– something, thankfully, that is a snap to do on Amazon. What I saw made my heart sink: the package had not only been shipped, it had been delivered to my apartment building days earlier and signed for by one of my neighbors. I knocked on my neighbor’s door, and asked if she still had the PlayStation. No, she said; after signing for it, she had put it downstairs in the hallway.

Nonetheless, I got on the phone with an Amazon customer service representative, and explained what had happened: the PlayStation had been shipped, delivered and signed for. It just didn’t wind up in my hands. Would Amazon send me a replacement? In my heart of hearts, I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I was pleading for mercy.

I shudder to think how this entreaty would have gone over at, say, Apple, where customer service is an oxymoron. But the Amazon customer service guy didn’t blink. After assuring himself that I had never actually touched or seen the PlayStation, he had a replacement on the way before the day was out. It arrived on Christmas Eve. Amazon didn’t even charge me for the shipping. My son was very happy. So, of course, was I.”  Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/technology/05nocera.html

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B) Zappos:

Zappos

Zappos

 

Right in-line with this blog article, Zappos is an e-commerce company whose #1 core value is to “Deliver WOW Through Service”.  In addition, in keeping with a customer first mantra, CEO Tomy Hsich states that Zappos is “a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Here is a story I read while researching this article that definitely applies to Surprise and Delight Customer Service.  “Recently, a newly-married couple were packing up their belongings in preparation for moving. The husband packed his wife’s jewelry inside one of her purses, and packed the purse inside what he thought was a spare Zappos box. The wife, it turns out, was intending to return that purse to Zappos using that very box. Which she then does, having no idea that inside the purse now were several thousand dollars of her jewelry!

When the couple arrives at their new home and starts to unpack, bedlam breaks out as the wife figures out what has happened and why her jewelry is missing. The rep she reaches at Zappos decides to reroute the box directly to his desk, but once it arrives, the rep fears for the safety of the valuables if he were to ship them, and purchases a plane ticket to hand-deliver the package himself.  When he arrives, the incredibly grateful couple invite him in for dinner. Now they’re customers for life, as you can imagine.” Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2017/08/01/three-wow-customer-service-stories-from-zappos-southwest-airlines-and-nordstrom/#77ad6ace2aba

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Section 4: Top Surprise & Delight Delivery Companies:

 

Here is a list of several larger companies I consider to be at the top of their game and world-class in delivering surprise and delight customer service:

  1. Ritz-Carlton (consulting client)

  2. Marriott (consulting client)

  3. Zappos

  4. Amazon

  5. Southwest Airlines (consulting client)

  6. American Express (consulting client, 4 different projects)

  7. Costco

  8. Chic-Fil-A

  9. Wegmans Food Markets

  10. Publix

  11. Apple (consulting client)

  12. USAA Insurance

 

Section 5: How to implement Surprise & Delight Customer Service for your company or organization

 

How do companies like Amazon Ritz-Carlton and Zappos consistently deliver exceptional or legendary levels of customer service?  Do they rely on being lucky enough to hire the 1 in 1,000,000’s like Luigi from Marriott Philadelphia West or Greg from the Waters Edge Lighthouse or Sarah from Mario’s above, or do they possess something else, like a secret sauce to deliver this type of amazing customer service? Having consulted for Ritz-Carlton in the past, I know that many follow a similar 5 step process detailed below.

Step 1:  Map your customer journeys:

 

Leveraging an integrated team of process experts, customer service and front line employees, map the various ways customers journey through an experience with your company. Examples include:

  1. Customer prospect, exploring your potential services and/or products

  2. First time website visitor, buyer.

  3. Repeat or renewal website visits.

  4. Existing customer, new product and/or service purchase.

  5. Customer returns, complaints or warranty claims.

  6. Service termination or account closure.

Here is a chart that illustrates examples of these various types of journeys:

 

Customer Experience Journey Sample, Example

Customer Experience Journey Sample, with Measurements

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Step 2:  LISTEN TO AND CULTIVATE meaningful and valuable customer needs, preferences, etc.:

 

In parallel with mapping you customer experience journeys, develop a program that continually gathers customer insights into what is most important and meaningful for each individual customer. A gift card could be given to any customer, but to know that customer A likes Starbucks, and customer B would love a Amazon Kindle gift card and customer C would value an ITunes gift card goes a long way to demonstrate that you are paying attention.  It also demonstrates that you are in tune with customer interests and care about them as individuals.  These 1-to-1, personalized surprise & delight moments build loyalty and  make a customer feel valued.

 

Step 3:  Map customer S&D opportunities along your customer journeys:

Once you have determined and documented the majority of your important customer journeys and determined what is meaningful and valuable to each of your customer’s preferences, start overlaying customer surprise & delight opportunities along these journeys. Here is a real example of how a client mapped a surprise a delight moment for high value customer issues. The key is to develop business rules that need to be satisfied in order for that surprise and delight moment to be fulfilled. In this case, a high value customer whose order was misplaced and later corrected once error was discovered, receives a gift as an apology for the error.

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example

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Example: Value of item lost $500. High value customer A would receive a $100 Starbucks gift card, customer B would receive a $100 Amazon gift card and customer C would receive a $100 ITunes gift card.

 

Step 4:  Develop & deploy customer S&D policies & procedures:

 

The next step is to distill all of the surprise & delight opportunities mapped along customer journeys into a set of front-line employee policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples of each:

Policies:

  • We will compensate high value (high value is client specific) customers for errors and anomalies that are of no fault of their own.

  • Front-line employees shall be responsible and rewarded for turning satisfied customers into delighted, loyal customers by empowering them to easily and quickly deliver surprise & delight moments.

  • Each front-line employee shall undergo front-line customer service certification training to ensure they are prepared and equipped to delivery legendary customer service via surprise and delight moments, customer needs cultivation, etc.

  • Cultivate and reward the best employee surprise & delight customer stories from each quarter and showcase and provide rewards for ‘the best of the best’ at the end of the year.

Procedures:

  • If a high value customer is calling to complain about a missing shipment of high value that was lost of no fault of their own, we will compensate with an item of meaningful value to that customer worth 20-25% of the missing item.

  • Prior to checking into the hotel, we will check the customer preference and need profile on record to ensure all needs are met during the upcoming stay.

  • Employees are to document all cultivated customer preference insights during their current visit in the global customer preference database in order better serve the customer’s individual likes, preferences, needs, etc. Details on how to do this are documented in the global customer preference database procedures manual and trained on during front-line employee customer service certification.

Step 5:  Develop a set of S&D hiring standards & train on S&D policies, procedures, etc.

The last step is to ensure you are hiring the best employees that they have the highest Exceptional Customer Service Aptitude (ECSA). In addition, you need to continually train and certify your employees on customer service policies, procedures, processes and how to consistently deliver exceptional, surprise & delight customer service.

1) Screen for the Best:

To hire those with the highest ECSA, you need to develop a customer service screening questionnaire as I have done for many clients to be able to consistently hire those who are predisposed at delivering great customer service and screen out those who are not. By doing this, you are screening employee candidates to find and hire only those who posses the characteristics that are most like Luigi, Greg and Sarah who are naturals at delivering exceptional S&D service.

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2) Train to be the Best, Continually Improve:

The next sub-step is to develop a set of high quality customer service training materials and processes to certify your front-line employees on exceptional customer service delivery policies and procedures. All new employees should be certified via the training and all existing employees should have to re-certify to ensure adherence to the latest exceptional customer service policies and procedures. Ongoing training for all employees will help ensure a high level of customer service is being consistently delivered.

 

Summary:

You can either hope for good luck in the hiring of natural and exceptional customer service employees that are 1 in 1,000,000 or you can develop a holistic Customer Service Excellence program with multiple dimensions and capabilities such that all employees perform to the level of a Sarah, Greg and Luigi. By hiring, training and enabling your front-line employees to consistently deliver surprise and delight moments for your customers, your company will develop a cult-like customer following similar to Zappos, Amazon and Ritz-Carlton.  Your customers will remain fiercely loyal and will actively advocate to increase your revenue, margins and brand reputation. With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best surprise & delight customer program possible?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in deploying legendary levels of “surprise and delight” customer service, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of over 50 articles I have written on Customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

The Goals, Focus and Role of the Chief Customer Officer.

Wanted – Chief Customer Officer !

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The above posting for a Chief Customer Officer has been seen in increasing numbers in the past 10 years.  Why you might ask? The reason is simple in that many companies are starting to realize that if the customer is elated with their customer experience, they will transition themselves into unpaid sales and marketing {free} viral agents for the company, telling everybody they encounter how great the company is, how much the company cares about their customers, how they truly deliver wonderful customer experiences. The company then becomes a market leader with a cult-like and rapidly growing customer following while having virtually no sales and marketing budgets.

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Costco wholesale club, which is a membership-only warehouse club store chain has done exactly that and has grown to over 785 locations and nearly 100 million members despite having a minimal marketing and advertising budget. The reason is that they have become a leader in their industry in customer satisfaction and have grown cult-like customer loyalty.

Costco has grown by being a leader in customer service

Costco has grown by being a leader in customer service

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Another firm experiencing dramatic growth with minimal marketing & advertising spend is Chick-fil-A.  Again, there are countless stories about how Chick-fil-A has become a model for delivering legendary customer service and the resulting customer satisfaction.

Chick-fil-A has grown by being a leader in customer service

Chick-fil-A has grown by being a leader in customer service

Due to the success of companies like Costco and Chick-fil-A, companies are now staffing a new position at the CxO level to oversee the holistic development of customer service and experience excellence programs. This relatively new position is called the “Chief Customer Officer” and most top tier companies now have staffed this position.

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Evidence of the growth in this role can be found everywhere like this excerpt from Wikipedia: “A 2010 study by the Chief Customer Officer Council documented that there are approximately 450 executives worldwide with the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) title or having comparable authority and responsibilities under a different title. While growing from fewer than 30 in 2003, CCOs are the newest, and by far the smallest, component of the C-suite. With an average tenure of just 29 months, the chief customer officer has the shortest lifespan among all C-suite executives.[1]

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In addition, Forrester reports that 76% of executives say improving CX is a high or critical priority and many companies have established a C-level position to oversee it. Great read, source: “Why every company needs a Chief Customer Experience Officer”, Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/06/why-every-company-needs-a-chief-experience-officer

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Here is the definition of role of the Chief Customer {Experience} Officer (CCO) also from Wikipedia: “the CCO is properly defined as an executive who provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.”

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In other words, the Chief Customer Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer is first and foremost a strategist, developing new methods, standards, tools, techniques to develop and deliver world-class customer relationships and experiences. This means the Chief Customer Experience Officer is generally not tactically oriented, focused on customer day-to-day operations or oriented toward Quarterly sales, helping to drive shorter-term customer service cost reductions, etc. These roles are more geared toward customer operations, customer support and/or a process improvement leader.

Chief Customer Officer Humor

Chief Customer Officer Humor

Here is a high-level description of the typical major goals of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO):

  1. Engage the organization in developing and maintaining meaningful and valuable customer relationships

  2. Develop customer service standards that define and deliver consistent levels of legendary superb levels of customer service

  3. Create a customer first mindset in every decision the company makes.

  4. Breakdown organizational and departmental silos as to deliver consistent superb levels of customer service across all customer touch-points (point of purchase, payment, returns, etc.)

  5. Champion cultural change to focus on aligning the company around the customer as well as improving the satisfaction levels of both employees and customers alike._

While the Chief Customer Experience Officer’s primary role is strategic, here are the excerpted requirements from an array of recent Chief Customer Experience Office positions posted on LinkedIn:

  1. Strike the perfect balance between managing a high-performing customer experience team and prospecting/pitching/closing your team’s sales targets –a CCO role should not be oriented toward shorter-term sales!

  2. Directing and overseeing customer support work-flow through Directors, Managers, and Supervisors. –a CCO role should not be geared toward shorter-term tactical operations or be responsible for tactical and current state detailed process.

  3. Handling customer escalations. CCO role should not be geared toward becoming a tactical contact center manager as these tactical duties will consume them and de-focus them from the long-term strategic improvement of the overall customer experience.

  4. Creating a long-term vision for delivering an efficient customer-centric service and support –If the CCO is seeking to drive costs out of the business, then often the customer experience will be sub-optimized, which is contrary to their longer-term customer experience improvement goals. For example, the goal of reducing average call handling time (keep the call as short as possible) often undermines the goal of improving the delivery quality of customer service (staying on the phone longer to find out more about the customer’s needs, information, etc.).

  5. Leading and developing a team that interacts with customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing quality support through online help tools, email, text, chat and phone –a CCO role should not be geared toward becoming a tactical contact center manager as the tactical and reactive management of customer issues will likely be all consuming, leaving little focus or time for the more strategic effectiveness improvements

  6. Lead for {company name} on client relationships during the sales campaign and establish appropriate relationship mapping between {company name} and the client organization through various departments (marketing, legal, operations, IT, etc.) and play a lead the sales kick off process –a CCO role should not be geared toward short-term sales, but rather on improving longer-term sales rates via improving the customer experience which will in turn drive more rapid and increasing customer acquisition, increased customer loyalty, increased same customer spend, etc._

The above requirements hint to the fact that they are not truly bought into the role of a Chief Customer Officer from a strategic standpoint and are really looking for a tactical manager to drive short-term profits.  In addition, without having the role at the CxO level, there will be minimal leverage in making strategic and longitudinal changes that dramatically improve the customer service quality to superb/legendary levels.

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Below is my viewpoint on how to best structure the office of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) whereby a better balance can be maintained between the strategic focus of the role and the tactical focus. In other words, if you are going to co-mingle both the ongoing tactical customer focus and the strategic focus of making revolutionary changes in your customer service such that the customer experience becomes legendary, then the following organizational structure is recommended.

xxx

xxx

Optimal Chief Customer Officer Goals & Organizational Structure

Optimal Chief Customer Officer Goals & Organizational Structure

 

Only when you consistently achieve outstanding customer service ratings will you develop customer service into a competitive advantage

Only when you consistently achieve outstanding customer service ratings will you develop customer service into a competitive advantage

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Here is a company that got it mostly right with their recent posting on LinkedIn for a Chief Customer Experience Officer that will be strategic and will be truly at the CxO level:

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Chief Customer Experience Officer – NYC

What You Will Do

As the Chief Customer Experience Officer, you will play a significant role in implementing the strategic goal of providing industry-leading products and services.–Ok as it is strategic focused, but should have mentioned service quality, levels, etc. While the CCO should provide insights and customer feedback into product and service needs, deficiencies, etc., they should not be placed in charge of product or service line development as these roles require a different skill set.

As The Chief Customer Experience Officer, You Will

  • Set an inspirational vision and establish clear objectives, goals and milestones for the customer experience strategy; –Excellent, strategic (vs. tactically) focused

  • Drive continuous improvement and champion positive change to improve service levels and increase customer satisfaction; –Great: Strategic Change agent, Chief Customer Advocate

  • Act as a content expert on emerging customer experience trends and best practices; –Excellent: Longer-term focused on achieving quantum improvements in customer experience (vs. focused on smaller tactical improvements)

  • Measure and observe customer usage and satisfaction and incorporate those findings into product and service developments; –Excellent: Acts as the Steven Covey, “Sharpen the Saw” person/organization focused on continuous customer experience improvement.

  • Identify and implement industry best practices, strategies, and processes to support a best-in-class service experience; and –Perfect: Performs as a strategic center of excellence for making major holistic improvements in all things related customer experience

  • Work closely with key cross-functional stakeholders to improve customer experience, ensuring customer priorities are considered. -Great: Works strategically across groups to enact global customer experience changes vs. tactically focused on reactive customer service which will not move the needle across the enterprise.

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Other (top 10) Chief Customer responsibilities that might be found in the role description are as follows:

  1. Customer Insight Management. Develops and supports a voice of the customer program aimed at ensuring customer input, feedback and insights is incorporated into all ongoing programs that the customer experiences.

  2. Customer Experience Measurement. Create and track key customer experience metrics and related management reports and dashboards.

  3. Employee Customer-centric communications. Make sure that employees are informed and engaged in all customer programs as well as their results, shortfalls, improvements, strengths, etc.

  4. Customer Journey and Process improvement. Help the organization map customer journeys and then redesign and/or optimize the overall customer management processes.

  5. Customer Advocacy. Make sure that customers’ needs are taken into account in all key organizational decisions. Go beyond this and include the customer in the decision making process prior to any major program’s launch (practiced at world-class customer service leaders like Wells Fargo, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Marriott, etc. and is a growing practice being adopted by many market leaders)

  6. Customer Culture DevelopmentEnsure that customer excellence programs are not being created in a vacuum and that there is an ongoing continuous improvement program to ensure high levels of employee satisfaction through a supportive customer culture.

  7. Customer Service Training. Actively work on improving the organization’s customer service capability and employee service aptitude by developing and delivering training that supports the achievement of customer service standards and policy.

  8. Issue resolution management. Establish and support the process for solving customer issues that get escalated.

  9. Cross-organizational Coordination. Support the cross-functional teams and processes that govern the customer experience efforts across all organizational silos.

  10. Develop Surprise and Delight Customer Service Systems that drive exceptional and world-class customer service as to develop a cult-like brand following and advocacy from customers.

Responsibilities on the Radar of the Chief Customer Officer

Responsibilities on the Radar of the Chief Customer Officer

Beyond the typical ‘been there, done that job’ job positing information found above that you would otherwise see in a typical posting for a Chief Customer Officer, here are some additional guideposts and qualifiers to use as to what attributes and experience a great Chief Customer Officer should possess (sample-based on my own personal experience and interactions with Chief Customer Officers):

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  • Key Motivators and Drivers:

    1. Truly believes the customer comes first and when superb customer service is being delivered, then profits will follow

    2. Believes that a great culture must be developed and supported in order for great customer service to be developed and delivered

    3. Biggest career satisfaction is derived from the stories of surprise and delight exceptional customer service from both customers and the employees that made a difference in their customer’s lives

    4. Believes in receiving customer feedback and believes customers should be encouraged to provide insights, feedback, improvement ideas, etc. in addition, the truly great CCO views customer complaints as a valuable gift to the business since these insights are key customer service improvement opportunities.

    5. Is generally a people person and cares about their team and especially cares about their customers, is truly a customer advocate

    6. Believes the role of the Chief Customer Officer is to strategically develop and position the company to become the industry leader for customer service 2nd to none whereby customers are drawn to the company organically through word-of-mouth referrals.

  • Customer service related experience, attributes, skills:

    1. Has experienced first-hand what world-class customer service looks like numerous times and can provide examples

    2. Is a strategic customer visionary with the skills to bridge the gap from conceptual program visioning to customer service program implementation

    3. Has personally provided a great deal of personal customer feedback on sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook, Glassdoor, etc. (i.e. he/she has walked the walk).

    4. Has a blog or other thought leading set of materials that reflects their views on how to develop or deliver great customer service

    5. Has experienced abject poor customer service and, as a result, is on a mission to ensure customers under his/her authority experience the complete opposite – superb customer service

    6. Has experience in delivering and receiving what I call surprise and delight customer service whereby the customer is elated by the service delivery and reports being extremely satisfied (10 on a scale of 10) by their customer service experience

    7. Is skilled at breaking down organizational silos in order to create a persistent customer-first mentality across departments, locations, and all customer contact channels.

    8. Possesses natural diplomacy skills, an innovative spirit and a quantitative data-driven mind-set.

    9. Is excited about and totally motivated to change the life of the customer for the better

    10. Can reference 2-3 companies that they consider as models for how to deliver world-class customer service and customer experience and frequent these companies as a result.

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More than anything listed above, the last item is what I consider the most important. The best CCOs I have spoken to are excited about changing the customer experience for the better and become as excited when talking about the subject as they do when speaking about their own family. They have and do go on for hours when on the topic of customers and customer experience including speaking about the future of the customer experience, the major customer trends, their top customer success stories, etc. You can tell when a Chief Customer Office has truly found their calling as they are truly passionate, if not obsessed, about the topic.

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Summary:

  • The role of the Chief Customer Officer is important to ensure that the goal of making customer service a distinct competitive advantage is achieved. Having the role represented at the CxO level (along with COO, CIO, etc.) ensures the function is adequately funded and has the authority/influence to drive customer focused cross-enterprise changes and collaboration, etc.

  • Some companies are diluting the strategic focus and role of Chief Customer Office by assigning them both strategic tasks as well as tactical tasks.

  • Companies are giving the Chief Customer Officer the responsibility for developing customer service as a long-term strategic competitive advantage while simultaneously requiring them to drive short-term sales, revenue and customer operations efficiency improvements.

  • By focusing the Chief Customer Office on short-term and tactical and ongoing customer service assignments, the company will be much less likely to develop customer service into a distinct competitive advantage and attain market leader status based on service differentiation.

  • Once the CCO is able to focus strategically and make quantum improvements in service quality, it will become a distinct competitive advantage and then sales and revenue will soar over the longer-term from the grass roots customer following that will result._

If your organization is seeking a proven resource in measuring and improving your customer service and experience or need advice on hiring a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

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Lastly, this is just one article of 50 articles I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

 [1] Chief Customer Officer Council (2015), The 2014 CCO Council Chief Customer Officer Study, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.

Best Practices in Customer Experience (CX) Measurement and Analytics

The following are the top 10 concepts you will learn in this blog article:

  1. What are the most common set of metrics used to measure customer experience quality and effectiveness.

  2. What these common customer experience metrics are used for

  3. When are these best practice customer experience metrics best measured

  4. What a customer journey (a.k.a. customer life-cycle) is and how it related to customer experience metrics

  5. Why a balanced scorecard is better than any one single customer experience metric

  6. Why NPS is not sufficient to provide a comprehensive picture of your customer experience quality and effectiveness

  7. The top 10 best practices in developing a world-class customer experience measurement program and balanced scorecard

  8. Sample of what a customer journey looks like as well the customer experience analytics collected at each journey phase

  9. Examples of embedded detailed customer journey phase analytics paired with summary & executive level customer experience analytics

  10. How to develop customer experience analytics that also drive the development and support of a customer first, surprise and delight culture.

Peter Drucker once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This ageless and famous quote applies to almost all situations and customer experience is no exception. There is virtually no way to determine how effectively your customers are being treated without a robust set of measures to gauge how well you are fulfilling their needs, wants, desires, etc. In this blog article, we will cover the specific metrics that best practice companies use to measure their customer experience delivery along with it is done.

 

Peter Drucker's Famous Measurement Quote

Peter Drucker’s Famous Measurement Quote

The Chart below illustrates some of the more commonly used customer experience (CX) metrics and how/where they are used in the customer journey continuum.

Commonly Used Best Practice Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

Commonly Used Best Practice Customer Experience (CX) Metrics

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) – one of the most common uses of customer satisfaction ratings is on ratings websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, etc. using the now famous five star rating system seen below. Other customer satisfaction feedback mechanisms are more sophisticated, querying customers on an array of customer experience topics that are multi-dimensional in nature.

Customer Satisfaction Score Example

Customer Satisfaction Score Example

  • Customer Churn Rate: Customer churn rate is almost always expressed in terms of a percentage and is a product of the number of lost customers divided by the number of retained customers for any given period (day, week, month, Quarter, Year).

Customer Churn Rate Example Calculation

Customer Churn Rate Example Calculation

  • Customer Effort Score: Customer Effort Score is recorded to keep a pulse on how easy it is for a customer to accomplish certain transactions with your company (e.g. return a product, handle an issue, inquire about upgrades, etc.). It is obtained via surveying customers following a major interaction and is expressed in terms of a numeric, typically on a 1-10 or 1 to 7 scale. Here is a sample I developed for a client where the score is translated into a 1 to 7 scale (from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7).

Customer Effort Score Example Quantification

Customer Effort Score Quantification Example 

  • Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR): This metric is a measure the average time it takes to resolve categories of customer interactions (inquiry, product issue, service issue, contract renewal, return, etc.). This is expressed in average time per interaction category as shown in this example

Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR) Example Calculation

Customer Average Time to Resolution (CATTR) Example Calculation

  • First Contact Resolution (FCR): All companies should strive for what is called “one and done” customer service, enabling the customer to handle any need with one short effort. The benefits of achieving this are endless including the following: Research I have read has indicated that a 1% increase in FCR rates translate into decreasing operating costs by 1%, increases of both customer satisfaction and employee scores by 1-3% as well as increasing customer loyalty (up to 20%). How companies measure FCR vastly differs including surveying customers, tracking it in a CRM system, tracking it in a contact center database or querying the customer at the end of a call. Many companies sadly do not track this metric and lose out on the visibility and resulting benefits this provides.

One & Done Customer Service

One & Done Customer Service Creates Elated Customers

  • Contract Renewal Rates: This metric is more company specific but, when applicable and used in conjunction with the other metrics, provides a great barometer on the health of the contract oriented business. For example, you might be experiencing great FCR and customer average time to resolution, but contract renewal rates might be lagging due to a perceived lack of value by the customer for the price paid. By using this metric in a balanced scorecard along with CSAT, FCR, CATTR you have a much more comprehensive view of total customer satisfaction than with just a few measures, allowing you to reduce business risk and potential revenue surprises.

High Contract Renewals = High Customer Satisfaction

High Contract Renewals = High Customer Satisfaction

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the most commonly used and simplest customer experience metric that exists.  NPS is typically measured by asking the following question:

How likely are you to recommend [business, service, product] to a friend or colleague?

Customers rate your company, service, product, etc. on a scale of 0 to 10. Respondents are grouped in the following categories:

    • Customer Promoters (Score 9-10)

    • Customer Passives (Score 7-8)

    • Customer Detractors (Score 0-6)

Calculate Net Promoter Score is typically calculated by subtracting the percentage of net detractors from net promoters. Here is a great illustration on how this is determined, calculated:

Net Promoter Score Example Calculation

Net Promoter Score Example Calculation

It has been found that only those customers who provide a rating of a 9 or 10 on the NPS scale are those who will truly become adjunct volunteer company sales and marketing agents and are a result of experiencing surprise and delight levels of customer service. These same elated customers are the ones who tell everyone they meet about your exceptional company and your amazing, services, products, customer service, etc. More on this in a future blog that will address the topic of “Delivering Consistent Surprise and Delight Customer Service”.

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On this last point of NPS, there exist many misnomers about what to measure for customer experience effectiveness. Many professionals I have met in my consulting travels have the misconception that measuring one metric like Net Promoter Score (NPS) is sufficient to measure the quality of the customer experience you are delivering to their customers.  This is equivalent to believing that taking your body temperature is sufficient to determine your overall health when in actuality there are many measures taken together that help make this healthy/not healthy determination. The same is true for measuring the quality of your customer experience. While NPS is a good measure for helping to determine the quality of your customer experience effectiveness when used correctly, similar to body temperature, it must be augmented with many other measures to determine its overall effectiveness.

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Other customer experience metrics include employee turnover (a leading indicator of customer satisfaction), year-over-year same customer spend, customer loyalty and average longevity, customer acquisition rates over time, etc. I will go more into this when I cover the topic of customer journeys.

Customer Experience, Satisfaction Humor

Customer Experience, Satisfaction Humor

First, let’s examine my recommended top 10 best practices for measuring your customer experience delivery effectiveness.

  1. Monitor Customer Experience Metrics in Real Time and continuously improve customer experience programs based on actual CX metrics/program performance.

  2. Track top level Customer Experience (CX) Metrics for all customers (i.e. average customer satisfaction) and for individual customer segments (i.e. price sensitive customers or high value customers).

  3. Request both customer qualitative and quantitative ratings throughout the Customer Life-cycle during critical customer interactions. Accomplish this my providing a conduit for your customers to become brand partners who are invited to participate in providing program feedback prior to full launch, provide detailed focus group feedback on selected topics and for most valuable customers to participate in exclusive customer advisory boards.

  4. Ensure group appropriate customer experience metrics are being delivered to each layer of the organization (highest importance summary level for CEO – Chief Customer Experience officer, more granular metrics for tactical managers and line staff).

  5. Cultivate and measure your own internal customer metrics and calibrate against externally measured CX like the American Customer Satisfaction index or metrics collected by firms like the Service Management Group (Kansas City), Direct Opinions (Beachwood Ohio), C-Space (Boston), Engine Group (NYC), etc.

  6. Track customer experience effectiveness via a balanced scorecard of Customer Experience Metrics including customer satisfaction, NPS, Customer Churn and renewal rates, customer spend per year and employee turnover (a proven leading indicator of customer satisfaction).

  7. Ensure the collection and dissemination of Customer Experience metrics meet the golden rules of being seamless to your customers, easy to obtain and are ingrained as part of normal business operations.

  8. Review customer experience metrics during key management reviews like operational reviews, leadership team reviews and financial reviews. Ensure action plans are developed for metrics above and below expected performance levels.

  9. Ensure that the company culture and training is supported and in-line with customer experience metrics by making everyone’s KPIs metrics align to the performance of key customer metrics.

  10. Develop customer journeys (a.k.a. customer life-cycles) and develop customer experience metrics for each major step in the customer journey.

The last best practice is to identify key end-to-end customer journeys or paths of customer progression when engaging your company and then attach appropriate customer experience journey analytics along those customer paths. Once you understand the different touch-points and how they impact the overall customer journey, you will be in a far better position to pick the most appropriate metric to use at each touch-point. The best metric is company determined based on a developed set of customer experience standards and goals.

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In my example in the introduction, Net Promoter Score (NPS – which answers the question, “How likely are you to recommend [business, service, product] to a friend or colleague?” and is rated on a 0 to 10 score), is not a total customer experience solution metric. The reason is that NPS works best when measured at the end of a customer journey (a.k.a. customer life-cycle), such as at contract renewal time. For example, if a customer is getting frustrated returning a product or trying to resolve a service issue, then they will likely defect long before they are queried on NPS. It is better to measure customer satisfaction right after an interaction to have real-time insights into a customer’s experience satisfaction and not wait until NPS query time.

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Here is a sample customer journey I developed from a recent client consulting engagement along with the metrics they decided to collect at an aggregate level as well as along this customer journey. Some of the metrics and customer journey names have been changed to protect my client’s identity. In addition, this client wanted to err on the side of measuring many metric points frequently and not all clients are this exhaustive in measuring their program. Some of these metrics were already in place before we added many others.

Customer Journey Analytics Illustration

Customer Journey Analytics Illustration

The above illustrates one of the main customer journeys (discover to renewal) in the life of a customer along with the Macro customer phases in that journey (i.e. 1-customer discovery, 2-customer sales & on-boarding, 3-customer support, 4-customer renewals) as well as the micro phases in that journey (product, service credibility evaluation).

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The above chart also illustrates the fact that it is important to track global/summary metrics at the top of the organization (i.e. total customer satisfaction) in order to gauge overall customer experience health and to balance these with more granular measures along the customer journey phases (i.e. First Contact Resolution in the on-boarding and support phases). While there is a recommended set of best practice metrics to collect for standard customer journeys, each company will make a different selection of the mix of metrics. For example, if a company’s life blood is contract renewals then the metrics will be more geared toward gauging the customer’s satisfaction for the existing contract experience (value for contract price, value of contract to client’s business, contract terms & ease of doing business vs. perhaps product return rates).

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One best practice embedded in the above is to report on the number of customer stars (in the 1st and 3rd phases above) per period whereby employees who have delivered exceptional “surprise and delight customer service” are recognized and rewarded. Customers of this company as well as executives from the company are provided incentives to recognize employees who went above and beyond in delivering exceptional customer service. This company tracks this via reports and recognizes top employee customer stars quarterly and annually with top company customer stars getting recognized, rewarded, etc. This helps build a culture of support for being customer exceptional with top stories being told over and over to teach employees what it means to be customer exceptional  and encourage others to emulate this valued behavior.

Summary:

In summary, measuring your customer experience quality/effectiveness must be guided by a set of best practices to be effective and comprehensive. The use of customer journeys as well as customer experience journey analytics, balanced by summary customer experience metrics comprises a customer experience balanced scorecard.  By not measuring or under-measuring your customer experience delivery effectiveness, you are flying blind and having to take guesses as to whether your program is delivering exceptional customer service to your customers or not. Only when you reach the level of consistently delivering exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service will you reap bottom line benefits of accelerated customer acquisition, reduced sales and marketing costs, increased customer loyalty and increased employee and customer satisfaction.

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With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best customer experience program possible!!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your customer service and customer experience, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

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Lastly, this is just one article of nearly 50 articles I have written on Customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

The Top 10 Best Practices in the Development of Customer Experience (CX) Excellence Programs (CEEPs)

Customer Experience (CX) is becoming a greater focus for many companies world-wide. WHY? The development of Customer Experience Excellence has been demonstrated to enable marketplace competitive advantage and to create fiercely loyal customers who are willing to advocate for the company and its brands and are also willing to pay more for their products and services in exchange for uniquely excellent customer service. In addition, when customers are provided with truly exceptional/memorable customer service time and time again, they repeatedly tell positive stories about their amazing customer experience, telling as many people as they can influence about your company, how their experience made a positive difference in their lives and how your company cares about them vs. your competitors. In essence, delighted customers transition themselves into adjunct company marketing and sales agents for the company that is equal to millions in company paid efforts, plus their grass-root and viral influence is judged at least 5-10x more credible/believable vs. company paid advertising, marketing and sales.

 

The chart below is a small sample of the benefits gained by my clients and many other companies as a result of the systemic implementation of a customer experience excellence program. In addition to the above, employees are found to be much more content working for a company who truly cares about the well being of their customers and the service they are receiving.  It makes employees, as a client employee once said in a leadership meeting, “ I am Part of it, Proud of it”. In essence, making customers happy in turn makes employees feel satisfied.

Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience
Benefits of Having an Excellent Customer Experience

As a result of my experience developing Customer Experience Excellence and CRM Programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies including {American Express, Intuit Software, HP, Ritz-Carlton, Pfizer, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Starwood Hotels, Marriott, JC Penney, Macy’s, Toyota of America, Nissan, General Motors, Lenox, Southwest Airlines, Astra-Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Welch Allyn Medical Systems, Vanguard, Citibank, Allstate, AXA Insurance, SONY, Siebel & Oracle Systems, SAS Software, Unica Software, Neopost, Bank of America, Samsung, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Hilton, etc.}, I have developed the following set of top 10 best practices in relation to the development of a customer experience excellence program:

 

1. The program must be advocated, supported and championed at the CxO level. This is evidenced by the increases in staffing of the position called the “Chief Customer Experience Officer” that most top companies now have.

WHY?:  Forrester reports that 76% of executives say improving CX is a high or critical priority and many companies have established a C-level position to oversee it. Great read, source: “Why every company needs a Chief Customer Experience Officer”, Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/06/why-every-company-needs-a-chief-experience-officer

 

2. A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.

WHY?: The metrics are the vision of the program and without these, the program is flying blind on whether the program is resonating with the customer.

 

3. The customer must be invited, as a brand-company partner, to participate in the program development, roll-out and ongoing evolution.

WHY?: Without really asking the customer about what they want/need directly, all other attempts or approximation of customer needs through analytics or intuition based decision making are merely guesses of what the customer really needs and wants and are likely to miss their mark.

 

4. The program must be benchmarked against, and kept competitive with, all companies who are considered to be world-class customer experience companies.

WHY?: You might feel you have a great customer experience program, but without quantitatively benchmarking it against the best of the best companies, you will have no idea how really good it is, whether it is falling behind with current/leading practices, etc.

 

5. Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the customer service vision statement and overall strategy.

WHY?: Customer experience excellence procedures are the bridge and playbook that takes the higher level customer service vision and strategy and translates into the behaviors (culture) and major actions are needed on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis to bring this vision and strategy to life and make it real to every employee.

 

6. Employees must be supported in the delivery of customer experience excellence by a set of training and development programs that certify them to be able to deliver on the customer service and experience excellence standards, policies, SOPs, etc.

WHY?: The customer experience excellence training programs translate the higher-level customer experience excellence procedures and policies into a detailed playbook of specific and tactical employee actions and interactions that are required to deliver an exceptional customer service experience. In essence, these are the detailed ‘how-to’ of customer experience excellence delivery that makes the program real for front-line and customer facing employees.

 

7. The program must be underpinned and supported by best of breed technology infrastructure to capture customer knowledge and intelligence, mine customer information, automatically deliver relevant customer information real-time, allow customer to set preferences, etc.

WHY?: Technology will not only become the longitudinal memory for customer insights including needs, wants, preference, etc., but it will also serve to automate the delivery of intelligent customer interactions such that the program doesn’t become burdensome (vs. simple) to operate as it evolves and grows.

 

8. Related to #7 above, the program must be sophisticated in delivering on the various customer segment needs and wants, yet needs to be simple to engage and manage for customers and employees.

WHY?: People do business with companies that make it easy to do business with – fast, efficient, responsive companies are sought out more than those that are not. In addition, a program that is difficult to administer is at risk for execution errors by employees or by them short-cutting or avoiding the process.

 

9. The organizational culture at all levels must be created that is supportive of the customer experience excellence standards and all incentives must be aligned to encourage employee excellence in its delivery.

WHY?: Research by Gallup shows that work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity — and they experienced lower employee turnover, absenteeism, and safety incidents. In other words, it is difficult (impossible?) to deliver excellence customer service without a great corporate culture.  Original Source:  https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

 

10. The CEE program must be viewed holistically that takes into consideration people, process, technology and culture (PPTC) capabilities as well as all customer segments across all customer preferred channels of interaction.

WHY?: Pure and simple, a great program is implemented with the full (holistic) spectrum of capabilities considered. Focusing on only 1 or 2 of the 3 pillars of CEE (refer to CEEF framework chart below) will sub-optimize its performance.

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

Symptoms of a Poor Customer Experience

While the previous chart pointed to benefits of implementing customer experience excellence, the above chart, while self-explanatory, highlights a few negative impacts of having poor customer experience delivery. In addition to the above, companies that have a poor customer experience also experience the following:

  1. Market share erosion

  2. Declining customer acquisition success

  3. Declining cross-sell and up-sell success

  4. Customer social sentiment that is increasingly negative across an array of social media platforms

The above chart illustrates that in order to effectively gauge the effectiveness of your current customer experience program, you must be measuring across a number of company areas to determine what is working and what is not. Sound familiar?   2) ” A set of balanced scorecard metrics must be developed to measure the ongoing effectiveness of the program so that it may be continuously improved. A heavy emphasis must be placed on customer ratings of the program and associated service delivery.”

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

Best Practice Customer Experience Framework

The above chart is a best practice Customer Experience Framework that depicts the major pillars that enable customer experience excellence.

  1. The first pillar is the customer knowledge and insights that enable you to provide the customer with the right interaction at the right time and by the right channel of their choice.

  2. The 2nd is a robust customer strategy and delivery model to define the desired level of customer service delivery and how you will enable it.

  3. The 3rd and last is the development of a customer oriented culture to nurture and expand customer relationships that not only provides a differentiated customer experience, but also drives increased sales, loyalty and spend per customer.

I use this chart above, along with others, to develop the customer strategy, vision, policies, etc. Sound familiar?  5) Customer Excellence procedures, policies (SOPs) and standards must be developed that are in total alignment with the over developed customer strategy.

Key Deliverables in the Development of a  Best Practice Customer Experience

Key Deliverables in the Development of a Best Practice Customer Experience

The above chart is the waterfall development method I use to develop customer experience excellence. With few exceptions, each of the top level items must be mostly developed before the following lower level items can be developed.

For example, the top level CEE program vision, strategy and goals must be developed first, to be used as a guide for the development of its supporting standards, policy and guidelines.  All of these customer experience excellence deliverables align with the ten (10) best practices we covered at the beginning of this article.

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Best Practice Customer Experience Development Approach & Methodology

Above are the depicted major work-streams I employ to develop customer experience excellence for my clients. These major work-streams align to delivering the top 10 CEE best practices as well as my waterfall deliverable development schema in the previous chart.

Summary:

In summary, improving your customer experience delivery doesn’t have to cost a great deal, can start slowly, can now be measured and the return on investment is generally in multiples (2-10x+) of the cost. Without a delivering an exceptional customer experience (via an exceptional corporate culture),  you will be unable to acquire and retain great employees, will have more costly sales and marketing efforts and your customers will not be acquired as quickly or remain as loyal (vs. competitors). With all this being true, do you really have any excuse at all remaining not to actively work on ensuring you are delivering the best company customer experience possible as to create competitive marketplace advantage?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your customer service and customer experience, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

The Corporate Culture Top 5: Benefits, CxO Roadblocks, Myths, Trends, Best Practice Companies, Measurement Tools/Vendors, Best Approaches to start Improving

What you will learn in this blog article:

  1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

  2. The top 5 benefits of having an optimal corporate culture.

  3. The top 5 reasons CxOs put up roadblocks toward improving company culture.

  4. The top 5 myths associated with improving a company’s culture.

  5. The top 5 trends in corporate culture – a true (corporate) cultural revolution.

  6. Five (5) familiar sample companies that have great company cultures & why.

  7. The top 5 vendors & technologies to support corporate cultural measurement & improvement.

  8. Five (5) ways to get started, pilot some smaller and cost effective culture improvement programs.

best-company-cultures.jpg

Top Company Cultures

1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

Corporate culture simply put is a company’s beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management treat and interact with each other and all of their stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, influencers, etc.  A corporate culture is implied, not usually expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of, and interactions with, company employees and stakeholders.  A company’s culture is reflected in, but not defined by, its dress code, quality of work-life, quality of office accommodations, employee perks and benefits, turnover rate, hiring, treatment of customers/employees, customers/employee satisfaction and every other aspect of company operations.  It not about any one specific corporate program like longevity awards, benefit packages, etc., but a totality of all programs and actual treatment (not words or slogans).

2. The top 5 benefits of having a optimal company culture

A. Provides the ability to attract & retain the top talent in the marketplace. Google is legendary in terms of culture and the number of people that line up who want to work there. For example, Google receives over 3 million high quality applicants each year! Only 7,000 of the 3 million are hired which gives candidates only a 0.2% chance of getting hired. Obtaining a job at Google is reportedly 10x-15x more difficult than being admitted to an institution of higher learning like Harvard, Yale, MIT and Wharton.

B. You create 24/7 advocates worth millions (or billions) in equivalent marketing spend: With a great company culture, everybody transitions from an employee, stakeholder and observer into a 24/7 advocate, igniting a marketing buzz worth 10’s of millions, if not billions of dollars. From the 30’s to the 80’s everyone I knew spoke glowing reviews of IBM, GE, AT&T, etc. and how great it was to work there, their products, their culture, management’s prowess, etc. They would have had to spend billions in marketing to replicate the free market buzz they received simply as a result of having a great company culture.

C. Sales and Marketing Improves dramatically: Sales prospects, marketing acquisition targets, and existing clients are all easier to sell and acquire since, due to the positive brand buzz, they feel more comfortable buying, buying more, spending more, referring associates, etc. since the company is perceived as a solid company, “doing the right thing”. These sales benefits are also worth their weight in gold vs. the paid branding and PR that would have to be done to try to replicate it (paid PR and marketing are not as trusted nearly as much as word-of-mouth, genuine advocacy by customers, employees, etc.).

D. You are perceived as great company leaders who truly care, inspiring employees to go the extra mile: You create an environment where employees can spend more time with the family, sleep well at night, are not stressed to the max as a result of working in a toxic work environment. They also just feel good about the company and its leaders to reach out to offer help to their co-workers unsolicited (vs. undermining them in toxic cultures), spend time on company improvements that weren’t asked for (vs. counting the hours where it is acceptable to leave for the day in toxic cultures), etc.  I once worked for an amazing boss who maintained a great company culture and everyone in the company would do anything for this boss and his company (stay very late, work most weekends, etc.) without giving it a thought. Contrast this to clock watching until quitting time in toxic work cultures.

E. Improves quality standards, customer service and ethical standards. It teaches the most valuable lesson of doing the right thing, doing right by people, employees and most importantly – customers. With a great company culture, you create an environment whereby employees feel that they are cared for and work for a company with high ethical standards and ideals. This translates into higher quality standards, greater regard for customers, vendors, alliance partners, suppliers and doing the right thing by all of them (employees feel this is fair reciprocation since you are doing the right thing by them as employees).

3. The top 5 myths associated with improving a company’s culture:

A. Myth #1 – Improving the company culture is going to cost a great deal. False. Simple and low cost things can be done like initiating participation contests to name campaigns, logos, newsletters, etc. as well as performing team member spotlights that showcase their abilities and interests outside of work.

B. Myth #2 – Improving the company culture is a futile exercise since we can’t really measure it. False. New quantitative tools in the marketplace now make this possible. Refer to section 7 below.

C. Myth #3 – It is the job of HR and organizational development to improve the company culture. False. Without the support and sponsorship of the CEO, leadership team and mid-level managers, any attempts to improve the company are likely to fail.

D. Myth #4 – Improving the company culture is a pure cost exercise and will likely only make our management jobs more difficult. False. Improved company cultures usually pays back the initial improvement investment in multiples of anywhere between 2x and up to 10x, depending on numerous factors like program cost and implementation effectiveness.

E. Myth #5 – Great company cultures are only for the ‘neuvo’ high tech companies full of Millennials. False. Even some of the traditionally stodgy organizations like accounting and tax firms have made their cultures so unique, fun and rewarding to work for, they are breaking the stereotypes of their industries and are becoming ‘the place to work’ for top talent and the place to bring your business to for customers.

4. The top 5 reasons some executives (CxO’s) put up roadblocks and push-back at the idea of improving their company culture:

A. The company’s existing leadership is dominated by left side brain thinkers who are good in math, science, logic, accounting, science, etc. and cringe at the thought of how employees feel, the corporate atmosphere and the “touchy feely side of the business” (actual CEO quote). These leaders would rather leave this to their HR staff if they are also not left brain thinkers, otherwise culture improvement is likely doomed at those ‘group think’ left brain companies.

B. They are extremely bottom line oriented and frugal; hence, any talk of improving the company culture is viewed as a potential expense and an attack on the bottom line (i.e. the owner’s profits). The truth is that culture can be improved with zero expense (if needed) and impact on the bottom line. Culture is just seen “as a way for employees to get more benefits” (yet another CEO quote).

C. The executives feel that the existing culture is immeasurable and “hard to wrap your arms around” (another CEO quote), so they don’t know where to start. This was a valid objection until recently with the advent of new cultural measurement tools (refer to section 7 below).

D. Following on C above, since there are few ways to determine how good or bad the current culture is, there is no burning platform or business case to improve. In this case, if the culture isn’t (confirmed) broken, there is no need to fix culture.

E. The leaders are arrogant, myopic or clueless in that, while there are glaring gaps in customer service & satisfaction, employee satisfaction (i.e. Glassdoor employee reviews), product and/or service quality, etc, they continue to delude themselves into believing their company and its operations are excellent or world-class, customers are elated, etc. without any empirical evidence to support these beliefs and claims.

5. The Top 5 Trends in culture, how the corporate culture revolution is upon us

A. The new workforce is much more geared toward and attracted to a positive work experience and the quality of work-life vs. being more compensation driven as were the baby boomers and before.

B. Learning, personal development and working in a healthy environment (mentally and physically) are keys to making the overall employee experience more fulfilling and rewarding. It is as simple as, if employees have a pathway to learn and grow with a company, the more likely they are going to find the overall experience, per #1 above, more engaging, enjoyable, etc.

C. The new workforce of today wants to connect and build relationships with their co-workers. If the proper environment is prevalent, this will happen. Otherwise, a toxic and back-stabbing culture is one where co-workers are forced to distrust, despise and grow a disdain for fellow team mates. People tend to stay longer and remain company loyal within company environments where they have friends as co-workers vs. fakes and backstabbers.

D. Employees of today want to work for an organization that has a deep and significant purpose they can connect with such that their contributions are more meaningful than just collecting a paycheck. Today’s employees want their work to mean something significant to society, their country, the world and their families.

E. Employees more and more require and even demand company and leadership ‘genuineness’. This means that the rhetoric of company slogans need to match up with company and leader actions and follow-through. For example, if a company lauds its treatment of employees and work-life balance, there better be that feeling that this is genuine with a vast majority of employees. If not, it would be like marrying someone (employee-company) that you can’t trust. After a while, the relationship is guaranteed to sour.

6. Top 5 Companies that have superb corporate cultures:

A. Intuit (previous consulting client)- Intuit recently ended up on “People’s 50 Companies That Care” list. People highlighted our 32 hours of paid time off to volunteer, as well as pet insurance and paid time off whenever a beloved furry friend passes away. In addition, they embrace diversity more than many companies; help support the community, the environment, veterans, etc. When I consulted with Inuit, many employees shared with me that they really enjoy working for Intuit and you could feel the positive vibe in meetings, speaking to executives, etc. Intuit also recently earned a 4.2 on Glassdoor from their employee reviews at the time of this blog development. Check out their blog on “People and culture”: https://www.intuit.com/blog/category/intuitlife/people-culture/

B. American Express (previous consulting client)– I have consulted with American Express for many years, helping to provide expertise and insights that would help take their marketing, sales and customer service to the next level. Everyone I interacted with at American Express was truly professional, a cut above talent that I typically encounter at other companies and people seemed to really enjoy their work experience. American Express also earned a 4.0 on Glassdoor from their employee reviews at the time of this blog development. Check out their blog on “Company Culture”: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/topics/company-culture/

C. Southwest Airlines (previous consulting client)– The culture at Southwest Airlines is more than legendary. They recently earned a very high 4.3 on Glassdoor for employee reviews about “working at Southwest”. They have been written up for Culture by numerous publications like “Company Culture Soars At Southwest Airlines” by Forbes. In addition, when I was on a consulting project there, you could tell that employees genuinely enjoy working for the company and many told me they had fun.  Ironically enough, their CEO has a Jester Archetype which means he likes to joke, have fun, encourage a light and fun company culture (as you can tell when on many Southwest flights (attendants making jokes, signing songs, tricking out passengers – all in an attempt to get the passengers feel more at ease, laugh, etc.. Read more here: https://careers.southwestair.com/culture

D. Adobe (previous consulting client)– Adobe recently earned a high 4.1 on Glassdoor for employee reviews about “working at Adobe”. From what I have seen and heard from those working there in the past, the culture is “electrifying”, “motivating”, “exciting”, etc. Don’t take my word for it, read here what actual employees have said in Adobe blog #AdobeLife (http://blogs.adobe.com/adobelife/) – small sample of many:

  • “I have never worked for a company who has such a strong brand for which many customers are so passionate. The brand and our commitment to maintaining that brand contribute greatly to the pride I feel when saying I work at Adobe.”

  • “The culture here is real. This is the most professional and positive company I have ever worked for. Nearly every single person treats, and communicates with each other, with respect. This is unusual because we are a fast growing, high tech company. Even with our exponential growth, respect remains.”

  • “The largest trait that makes Adobe unique is that you get a genuine feel that the company cares about you as an employee. The amount of effort that Adobe takes to make sure employees have a safe and comfortable working environment as well as the large amount of great benefits is astounding.”

E. Wegmans Food Markets (not a previous consulting client, but rather I am a huge Wegmans brand advocate/zealot) – First Danny and now Colleen Wegman have done a wonderful job in shaping a market that not only provides exceptional service to its customers, but also delivers a world-class internal corporate culture. I have shopped and continue to shop at Wegmans and find it an experience to look forward to. As opposed to some of my local grocery markets where I have to deal with grumpy and gruff store associates and even managers, Wegmans employees appear to really enjoy their working experience. Consistently Wegmans has be written up as one of the top workplaces in America. In addition, Wegmans recently earned a very high 4.2 on Glassdoor for working there, a great and a consistent score for companies that have an excellent corporate culture. Read more here on CBS News – https://www.cbsnews.com/news/could-this-be-the-best-company-in-the-world/

7. The top 5 technologies & vendors to support corporate cultural measurement & improvement

Refer to “Vendor Ratings Disclaimer” below*. 

CultureIQ, CultureTalk  and Denison (listed alphabetically) are the cultural improvement pure plays leading the charge:

Until recently, CEOs could use the excuse and easily erect the all too common roadblock of “how do we get our arms around culture”, “it is hard to measure”, “that is so ambiguous, how do even know what our culture is, let alone improve it?” per section 3 of this article .  These would all be quasi-valid excuses today if it were not for the advent of a new category of cultural measurement software tools that make this excuse obsolete. While there are not many “cultural accelerator tools” on the market as of yet,  these tools/vendors enable a quantum leap in the measurement and quantification of corporate cultures (if you dare to ask).  As I have explored several of these new cultural measurement and improvement tools, three in particular have really caught my attention as a high potentials to become a market leaders.  These new culture improvement pure play* tools I will specifically focus in on is CultureIQ (https://cultureiq.com/), CultureTalk (https://culturetalk.com/) and Denison (https://www.denisonconsulting.com/)  for the reasons you will learn below.

*Culture improvement pure play tools/vendors are defined as those companies that were founded on and primarily focused on improving company cultures (vs. being part of a larger mix of tools/services).

1. CultureIQ:

A. CultureIQ background – CultureIQ started by providing culture improvement consulting services about 40 years ago qualifying the company to be an early pioneer in this space along with Global consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, etc. The technology to support their consulting arm is a relatively recent development since this part of their business was founded in 2013 and launched formally in 2014. The launch of the technology platform is backed by a venture capital firm and has helped fund a jump start of this platform into the marketplace in a major way.

B. CultureIQ Key Differentiator: CultureIQ’s key differentiator is that they provide the consulting expertise from within their own company vs. leveraging 3rd party consultants to drive their technology platform, making a great choice for one-stop shopping of a comprehensive vendor – technology with consulting.

C. CultureIQ Approach:  The most positive impact and yet another key differentiator of this vendor is that they lead with consulting services first to determine the business requirements for culture improvement. Only then do they configure the technology solution that addresses these specific needs. CultureIQ addresses many aspects of cultural improvement, with the only difference being that they do not assess and profile and individual’s culture type and fit like CultureTalk below. If you are not seeking this aspect of insights, CultureIQ is also a good choice.

CultureIQ Approach Overview

CultureIQ Approach Overview

D. CultureIQ Platform – CultureIQ’s diagnostic solution set is specifically configured to address individual business needs as determined by the lead-in consulting discovery phase. CultureIQs platform holistically aggregates insights from an array of heterogeneous sources. Per their website -“consolidates all types of feedback from annual, pulse, and employee life-cycle surveys (e.g., on-boarding and exit surveys) — across the enterprise.” In essence, CultureIQ aggregates an an array of culture insights and then drives an actionable improvement plan based on these continuous insights.

E. CultureIQ Consulting Services: CultureIQs consulting services is delivered via their own consultancy which has had over 40 years of experience helping improve company cultures. Their consulting services are very holistic and comprehensive per the CultureIQ website: “Our data scientists, organizational psychologists and business strategists become an integral part of your team.”  This consulting model is an ongoing presence of their consultants to help you improve your company’s culture.  For example, CultureIQ provides the following type of consulting services :

  1. Designing a Global Listening Program

  2. Conducting Executive Briefings (culture readouts)

  3. Providing Total Rewards Optimization

  4. Conducting Culture Focus Groups

  5. Culture Design and Evaluation

  6. Key Sales audience for CultureIQ: The primary audience for CultureIQ’s platform, as evidenced by their website, is HR professionals.

  7. CultureIQ’s Key competitors: Perceptyx, CultureAmp and Glint.

At the time of this writing, CultureIQ was launching “an updated culture model called “CultureAdvantage”. Check it out here: CultureAdvantage Model.  Due to the velocity in updating their solution as well as their longevity in providing consulting services as well as M&A culture analysis, CultureIQ is definitely a vendor/tool to keep watch on and consider.

A special thank you to Sheridan Orr from CultureIQ for assisting me and pointing me to Brady Loeck, a CultureIQ Account Director who I interviewed for this article!

2. CultureTalk:

A. CultureTalk Background:

First, some background on how CultureTalk was formulated. CultureTalk, is based on the work of Swiss psychotherapist Carl G. Jung and Dr. Carol Pearson who believe that human behaviors are guided by the same inner road-map and by a set number of (12) common Archetype patterns.  CultureTalk answers the questions Who am I? and Who are we? in terms of which specific Archetype (1 of 12) each of our organization’s team members associate most with as well as which specific Archetype best defines our overall organization.

There aren’t good or bad Archetypes, but each has a strength and shadow side that we need to understand in order to drive maximized organizational effectiveness and this is especially true when merging two different Archetypal cultures.

Here is an overview of each of the 12 types of Archetypes:

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Each of the 12 Archetypes above comes with a set of predominant traits (shown above) and shadows that need to be understood and managed.

B. CultureTalk’s Key Differentiator:

The most important  and differentiating feature of CultureTalk’s is that it addresses both the culture type of the individual as well as the overall organization simultaneously which is critical in a holistic cultural assessment initiative.  Here is the holistic and 360° corporate eco-system CultureTalk covers:

CultureTalk's Culture Focus Areas

CultureTalk’s Culture Focus Areas

C. CultureTalk’s focus areas:

  1. Individual (left above, from top to bottom):

  • Establishes an Individual Archetype Profile – helps employees understand their most optimal roles and assignments

  • Enables Hiring for Cultural Fit – Enables both the company and the candidate to make an optimal choice when selecting an employee to hire and company to work for

  • Articulate personal brand – makes it easier for team members and management to understand and manage to key strengths and motivations

  • Develop coaches, career plans, success and performance – Enables employees and manager to migrate to the right roles based on their specific archetype(s).

  • Enables enhanced collaboration and minimizes conflicts – By enhancing understanding of personal brands, archetypes and key motivators, it allows for team members to better communicate and empathize with fellow team members

2. Organization (right above, from top to bottom):

  • Establishes an Organizational Archetype Profile – helps the organization understand their key strengths, characteristics, blind spots, development needs, etc.

  • Mergers, Acquisitions, Partnerships, Alliances – Enables the company to understand key differences, risks, potential contention points and synergies for each of these potential partners, acquisitions.

  • Evolve based on Market Changes – enables better and more effective organizational changes based on changing market demands by knowing what the organization is (where we are) and where they need to go (quantifiable).

  • Company and Organization Brand – Allows the company to better define and articulate the brand to all external and internal stakeholders so that people ‘get the company’.

  • Team and Sub-Team Collaboration Improvement – This allows the company to understand the inner and sub-dynamics that exist within the realm of the company to enable more effective inter-team cooperation and communications.

D. CultureTalk Platform: The CultureTalk platform consists of two different culture surveys, one for the individual and one for the organization. The insights from these culture platform surveys then drive the holistic cultural improvement plan that is developed by their network of independent 3rd party consultants. While the leader survey is not specifically geared toward individual cultural analysis as is CultureTalk, the results of the leadership development 360 survey is used to drive leadership improvement in helping shape a more improved culture.

E. CultureTalk Consulting Services: Unique to CultureTalk is that the network of independent 3rd party culture improvement consultants from across the globe buy their surveys from CultureTalk and then deliver the culture assessment (via the individual and organizational CultureTalk surveys). They then add their own consultant’s expertise, using the cultural assessment results to start to improve the culture. CultureTalk does occasionally take on a consulting role and assists their consultants delivering consulting services, but the majority of services are delivered via a network of independent consultants that have been certified as CultureTalk capable consultants.

F. Key Sales audience for CultureTalk: CultureTalk is sold to a network of Independent 3rd party consultants who buy survey packages in varying numbers from CultureTalk as the licensing survey vendor (similar to DISC and MBTI).

G. CultureTalk’s Competitors: CultureTalk considers its competitors to be Strength Finder, MBTI, Insights, Kolbe Index, OCAI, Denison, DISC and Culture AMP.

Due to their unique capability to analyze both the individual and organization as well as M&A situations in the cultural analysis phases, CulureTalk is a vendor to consider and watch.

A special thank you to Theresa Agresta, a Founder at CultureTalk, for supplying the above charts and for speaking with me for this article!

3. Denison:

A. Background – Denison, led by Daniel Denison, got its start nearly 30 years ago, born out of Corporate Culture research driven by several universities like University of Michigan in determining the effect of corporate culture on corporate performance. Denison determined via this research that a company’s culture quality rating was a leading indicator of future performance in that the culture quality today will determine how well a company will perform in the future; say 1-3 years from now. The survey and technology/system developed in the 1990’s by Denison to support their consulting arm was influenced by early pioneers in survey design and theory including Rensis Likert. Denison has grown steadily to now having nearly 40 cultural improvement professionals on staff in the US and Europe.

B. Denison’s Key Differentiator:

Denison ‘s key differentiators are that it has several Fortune 500 global cultural improvement clients including a large multi-national energy client and a Japanese manufacturing and technology giant.  Dension also has a unique mix whereby half of their clients are in the US and the other half outside the US (Europe, Asia, etc.). Denison also teams holistically with other firms (Tier 1 consulting firms, research firms, etc.) across the globe to deliver the best client experience possible based on client needs. Denison also helps assess two cultures when facing an M&A situation, the only leading tool in addition to CultureTalk, that performs this analysis function.

C. Denison’s focus areas: Denison’s model of organization culture focuses on taking a balanced scorecard approach to measuring culture along four major dimensions: Adaptability, Mission, Consistency and Involvement as shown by this graphic that explains their measurement rubric.

Denison Model Overview

Denison Model Overview

E. Denison platform: The Denison platform consists of two different surveys, one for the organization and one for company’s leaders which is called the leadership development 360 survey. The insights from these culture platform surveys then drive the holistic culture and leadership improvement plans that are developed by Denison consultants, in conjunction with the client.

F. Denison Consulting Services: Denison, while providing the preponderance of consulting services via their own team of cultural improvement consultants, also teams when client appropriate, with other consulting firms like KPMG, Deliotte, RHR company, etc. Denison leads the client engagement to determine client needs and then develops a custom and client tailored approach and set of services (similar to CultureIQ). This initial analysis includes a set of key client questions that help determine the client’s specific needs and requirements.

G. Key Sales audience for Denison: Denison is sold to any array of stakeholders seeking to improve their corporate culture including HR professionals, learning & development professionals, communications professionals, strategy/operations professionals, c-suite executives, etc.

H. Denison’s Competitors (non pure plays): While the focus of this article is on cultural improvement pure play vendors (those firms that were founded upon and primarily focused on, corporate cultural improvement) Denison considers it closest competitors to be McKinsey, Gallup, Glint.

Lastly, Dension has a really interesting book out titled “Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations” written by Daniel Denison, Robert Hooijberg, Nancy Lane and Colleen Lief.

Denison's Cultural Change Book

Denison’s Cultural Change Book

Due to their longevity in the market with both the consulting and technology solutions, combined with their proven ability to service large/multinational corporations, Denison is a vendor to definitely consider and watch.

A special thank you to Dan Denison, Chairman and Founding Partner of Denison and Nabil Sousou, VP of Global Business Development at Denison, for supplying the above chart and for agreeing to be interviewed for this article!

On a side note, some consultants have noted that CultureTalk and Denison can actually be used together and are complimentary to each other, but I have not validated this claim.

Two Other non-pure play Culture Accelerator tools to consider beyond CultureIQ, CultureTalk and Denison are DISC and MBTI (also listed alphabetically):

4. DISC:

DISC started out as a tool to help define communication types within an organization and how to best communicate with different communication styles.  During a recent partner conference, DISC announced they are now applicable for assessing culture and more in-line with the trend of helping organizations figure out and improve their culture. At the time of writing this blog, the DISC website is proportionally under-representing cultural assessment and improvement vs. CultureTalk, CultureIQ, Denison as these are solely focused on corporate culture, what I call “Culture Pure Play Companies”. Just a mismatch of capabilities and website? Not sure, you decide. I would say if you already use DISC as a tool for communication type assessment, I could see using it as an extension for cultural analysis, improvement, etc.

Advantages of DISC: Clear definition of communication styles and how best to foster cultural communication improvement.

Disadvantages of DISC: Lack of overall organizational assessment out of the box that is driven by an organizational assessment, survey, etc. as is the case with CultureTalk, CultureIQ and Denison.

5. MBTI – Myers-Briggs®:

Myers-Briggs® is a survey based system that defines individual types of team members and leaders as well as defining what they call function pairs. The cultural discovery comes when Myers-Briggs® function pairs are then mapped to cultural patterns within an organization and common organization cultural practices. Here are the 4 cultural pairs as shown from the Myers-Briggs website (https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/understanding-mbti-type-dynamics/function-pairs.htm?bhcp=1)

  • Sensing plus Thinking (ST) – STs tend to approach life and work in an objective and analytical manner, and like to focus on realities and practical applications in their work. They are often found in careers that require a technical approach to things, ideas, or people, and tend to be less interested in careers that require nurturing of others or attending to their growth and development. STs are often found in business, management, banking, applied sciences, construction, production, police, and the military.

  • Sensing plus Feeling (SF) – SFs tend to approach life and work in a warm people-oriented manner, liking to focus on realities and hands-on careers. They are often found in human services and in careers that require a sympathetic approach to people. They tend to be less interested in careers that require an analytical and impersonal approach to information and ideas. SFs are often found in the clergy, teaching, health care, child care, sales and office work, and personal services.

  • Intuition plus Feeling (NF) – NFs tend to approach life and work in a warm and enthusiastic manner, and like to focus on ideas and possibilities, particularly “possibilities for people.” They are often found in careers that require communication skills, a focus on the abstract, and an understanding of others. They tend to be less interested in careers that require an impersonal or technical approach to things and factual data. NFs are often found in the arts, the clergy, counseling and psychology, writing, education, research, and health care.

  • Intuition plus Thinking (NT) – NTs tend to approach life and work in a logical and objective manner, and like to make use of their ingenuity to focus on possibilities, particularly possibilities that have a technical application. They are often found in careers that require an impersonal and analytical approach to ideas, information and people, and they tend to be less interested in careers that require a warm, sympathetic, and hands-on approach to helping people. NTs are often found in the sciences, law, computers, the arts, engineering, management, and technical work.

Advantages of Myers-Briggs: Detailed profiling of individual traits which can be mapped to organizational cultural patterns.

Disadvantages of Myers-Briggs: Lack of overall organizational assessment out of the box that is driven by an organizational assessment, survey, etc. as is the case with CultureTalk, CultureIQ and Denison .

Below is a grid that summarizes the information I was able to learn about each of the above five (5) vendors:

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

8. Five (5) ways to get started, pilot some smaller and cost effective programs

As with any quick-wins program, I always advocate letting the cultural analysis and identification of high priority needs drive which program you decide to use as a cultural improvement jump-start. The five suggestions below should only be selected based on company cultural analysis to determine which of the five are appropriate (or not). These example simply illustrate that getting started can be easy, inexpensive and designed to drive early company/employee excitement. Once this excitement and enthusiasm for cultural improvement is secured, a  larger cultural improvement program becomes easier to implement due to having some excited cultural change advocates on-board.

  • Conduct round-table meetings with employees, customers, suppliers, etc. to determine where quick-hit and east fix cultural improvements can be made. Surveys also work and are cost effective.

  • Complimentary to #1 above, take a pulse on, and measure, the company culture via some of the new tools that are available in the marketplace (per section 7 above) – you can’t fix what you haven’t quantified.

  • Implement some simple recognition programs that reward employees for going the extra mile. At GE under Jack Welch, I was part of a “tiger team” that developed and implemented a program called RAVE which stood for Recognition Award for Valued Employees. We would recognize people and teams for contributions above and beyond their normal duties.

  • Implement on-ramp participation programs that enable employees, customers, stakeholders excited and feeling more like their opinions and thoughts count. One recent example I recall was when we developed a new product and, instead of keeping the decision with the branding team, we turned into a contest for all employees to name the new product. The top 3 would be recognized with an award and a photo in the company news letter.  Another way to do this is developing customer feedback and idea programs to enable your customers to have a voice in the company, brand, marketing, etc. For example, Wells Fargo and many other banks now vets many of its product and marketing concepts through a customer feedback group prior to launch in order to increase market acceptance. These are all great examples of relatively low cost, high impact programs that can be developed to help start improving the company’s culture.

  • There are a number of other programs that can be implemented that are also low cost, but mean a great deal to employees. Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Invite a dry cleaner to come on-site one day a week so that employees can bring their dry cleaning to work to save time

  • Conduct periodic “bring your (child, dog, relative, significant other, etc.) to work” days

  • Hold contests that allow employees to showcase their talents outside of work (art day, sports accomplishment day, writers spotlight, etc.)

  • Hold vendor showcase days, allowing employees to buy from vendors onsite or nearby (craft vendor days, tool days, artisan days, gourmet food vendor days, food truck days, sporting equipment days, etc.)

Summary:

In summary, corporate culture improvement doesn’t have to cost a great deal, can start slowly, can now be measured and the return on investment is generally in multiples (2-10x+) of the cost. Without a great company culture you will be unable to acquire and retain great employees, will have more costly sales and marketing efforts, have distrusting and unenthusiastic employees and you will experience a great deal of dissatisfied customer churn due to constantly eroding customer loyalty. With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best company culture possible?!

Lastly, if your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring and improving your corporate culture, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

*Vendor Ratings Disclaimer
Mr. Jeffes does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in this blog article, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Mr. Jeffes’ research based blogs consist of the opinions of Mr. Jeffes’ research to the best of his ability and time constraints and should not be construed as statements of fact. Mr. Jeffes disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Mr. Jeffes’ research and brand may not be used to endorse a vendor, product or service, or to criticize another company. Forbidden use includes recopying text, graphs or reports in their entirety, or excepted without express written permission. All excerpts must be lifted verbatim, in their entirety, and appear accurately with all relevant context. Paraphrasing is not allowed. This article represents Mr. Jeffes’ viewpoint only and is open to listening to other viewpoints and research based input. Mr. Jeffes is not responsible for oversights, omissions, inadvertent typos and other mistakes that might have occurred in the development of this article.

World-Class Sales Processes & Methodologies – Insights into How to Achieve Sales Process Excellence

World-Class Sales Process

World-Class Sales Process

What you will quickly learn in this blog article:

  • The value and ROI of having a world-class sales process.

  • The top 10 benefits to having a clearly articulated sales process and associated methodology.

  • The specific components & elements within each detailed sales process that enables the sales team to maximize their effectiveness.

  • Sample sales metrics that should be collected as part of an overall sales process.

  • How a sales process helps align corporate communications and actions toward winning each and every sale.

  • How to infuse sales best practices right into your sales process at every stage of the sales cycle.

  • How to ensure all levels of the sales teams actions are coordinated in terms of communications, hand-offs, approvals, sales readiness, etc.

  • How a leading practices sales process will actually ensure that you deliver an optimum customer experience where customers will buy more and become loyal.

  • How a best practice based sales methodology will ensure your sales team is fully accountable for results and for the sales funnel.

  • Why a sales process can make it easier to on-board, train and retain a high performing sales team.

  • What critical sales process steps you can be automated once the sales process is fully developed and why sales automation alone (out of the box) won’t deliver sales process excellence.

  • How you can leverage artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) to offload mundane, lower value tasks from the sales team.

  • Proven and effective sales best practices I have diffused at various Fortune 500 company clients.

B) The Top 10 Reasons Developing & Maintaining a World-Class Sales Process is valuable for you and your company:

  1. Holds Sales Team Staff and Management Accountable

By having performance measures and toll gates baked right into the overall sales process, you can hold team members accountable for reaching select performance levels at each phase of the sales process

 

  1. Provides a clear & proven path for sales reps to close deals.

By having clearly defined best practice based steps and milestones that guide sales team members, from prospecting to proposal presentation, your company can avoid losing sales deals due to disorganization.

  1. Increases sales organization collaboration & synergy

World-class sales processes contain within them the definition of your entire sales communication process including the roles of each department supporting the sales process. This feature of the sales process definition ensures everyone is on the same page and collaborating and communicating at each critical juncture of the sales process to ensure the sale is won.

  1. Enables more efficient and effective on-boarding of new sales members

A standardized sales process makes training sales reps fast, simple, and nearly foolproof, by showing salespeople what they need to do in various sales situations without having to tie up the sales manager in the (re) training process. In addition, when the entire sales team is following the same road-map, any member of the existing sales team can pass on their knowledge and guidance to new hires.

 

  1. Provides the ability to constantly improve sales processes and methods.

Successful sales teams continuously refine their sales processes based on the collection of measurable data and constant feedback that will be built right into any world-class sales process. For example, understanding where most of your sales deals are getting bogged down or lost can help you identify the root cause of why those deals were stalled or lost and take steps to re-engineer the sales process. Without a process in place, deals are simply won or lost, and it’s hard to know which specific actions are succeeding or failing.

  1. Delivers better forecasting with higher predictability of sales and revenue.

A repeatable sales process provides sales teams with greater consistency in winning deals. Having a more accurate sense of your overall sales win rate enables your company to dependably forecast how many sales you’ll close from a given number of leads, and helps sales managers set realistic team member sales quotas.

  1. Drives more qualified leads, increased lifetime value, revenue and profitability

A well honed sales process also enables your sales team to be more effective at filtering out low-potential leads and identifying prospects that are most likely to purchase your product. Generating greater volumes of higher-quality leads shortens your sales cycle and reduces the effort wasted on lower probability sales deals.  This also ensures that your sales team focuses its efforts on the activities that deliver the most revenue and the highest levels of profitability.

  1. Enables improved communication between sales and supporting teams.

By having your sales team speaking a common company language (vs. sales specific) it can enable better collaboration among sales team members and with supporting company departments. A standardized best practice sales process contains common steps and common language that delivers simplified inter-company communication, reduces inter-departmental confusion, and enables your accounting, customer service, fulfillment, and marketing teams to provide the right sales actions and content at the right time. The following chart is an example of developing a framework for how various sales team members communicate, share and update information, etc.

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications

         9. Provides greater measurement of sales team performance

When a sales team has no standardized sales process to follow, it is difficult to measure anything except for wins and losses. A standardized sales process has built into it more data measurement points at each phase of the sales process, allowing for deeper analysis of key sales performance metrics and targets.

        10. Delivers a better overall customer experience.

When a sales representative pressures a prospect into a sales stage they are not comfortable with, it can create mistrust, which can negate the sale and damage the relationship with the buyer. A standardized sales process ensures that sales team members and managers do not advance the sale until the prospect is ready to move forward.  A best practice sales process also is designed to reflect how each prospect (customized via prospect analytics and profiling) would want to move through the buying process, and making sure each step is designed (customized) to generate maximum trust and value. In this manner the sales process enables sales teams to deliver an optimum and positive customer experience during each sales phase.

C) Global Sales Major Process Definition

World-Class Sales Process Framework

World-Class Sales Process Framework

The above is a sanitized version of the highest level sales process architecture I developed for a global consumer products company. This “level 1” foundation sales process architecture depicts the major processes and supporting processes for the overall company sales process. Each of these major process modules will each be further broken down in detail until the actual process steps, procedures and policies are of sufficient detail that they can be clearly followed by all sales stakeholders (sales manages, sales team members, departments supporting the sales team, senior management, etc.).

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

D) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Responsibilities and Major Processes

Breaking down the major 1.0 level sales process, we flow into the next level of detail for the S.1.0 process which is “Planning and Forecasting” for sales.

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Within the “Planning and Forecasting” module we depicted the major coordination and communications that occur with this Level 2 process. The horizontal subdivisions (a.k.a. swim lanes) shows a high level breakdown of responsibilities within the sales organization and between the various functions, regions, etc.   This was important for this client since it mapped out who did what and at what level to end up with either a new or revised sales forecast.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

E) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Steps, Decision Support, KPIs, Best Practices, Key Metrics

Using the “Updated Forecast” process as an example, we then show the level 3 detail of this sales process.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

As shown above, typically a level 3 or 4 process flow contains the sales process detail for it to be actionable by the sales team and supporting team (accounting, IT, fulfillment, product management, customer service, etc.).

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements Detailed

F) Detailed Sales Process – Definition of each step & components:

Let’s examine each of the 4 major elements of this level 3.0 process flow titled “Update Forecast”.

The first element we examine is the flow from another detailed process step,  “Review Period to Date Results”,  that has a number of inputs that into this process step “Update Forecast” at the Division level that include (sample) the following sales period to date information:

  • Projected sales volume vs. actual results

  • Sales representatives goals vs. actual results

  • # of closed sales deals and at risk-deals vs. planned

  • Profitability per deal vs. target

  • Total revenue and profit for all cumulative sales deals vs. target

Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 1st process element we examine is the examination and decision based on actual vs. planned period to date sales KPIs as follows:

  • Are we maintaining an upward linear growth rate as planned

  • Previous year same month sales vs. current month

  • Overall sales generated sales velocity ($$ per day, week, month) deltas

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales planned period to date KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 2nd element where we update a number of pre-determined KPIs that are critical to ensuring we have an accurate sales forecast. In this sample, my client decided that these are as follows (sample):

  • Sales targets

  • Key sales assumptions (totals and per deal)

  • Sales benchmarks (top performance vs. average vs. lagging)

  • Sales process (i.e. adjust at-risk deal processes to match on the ground situations for each deal)

  • Sales team accountability plans (adjust according to 1-4 above).

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If they are not at major risk, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 2A.

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 3rd process element we examine is the examination and decision based on sales project results for period end KPIs as follows (sample):

  • Are lead flow projected rates at previously forecast levels?

  • Are the numbers of late stage sales deals on track to close in the period end (monthly for my client)?

  • Based on the deals closing in #2 above, does the aggregate revenue for those deals match the projected forecast for period end?

  • Specific to this process step, we have an embedded best practice “BP”. This best practice details that if pipeline coverage of sales representatives drops below 85%, an automated process (with its own set of best practice procedures), kicks off titled “Recovery Plan S.1.0” that will return coverage of pipeline to 100%.

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales project results for period end KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 4th element where we simply update the key sales projections and KPIs based on investigating and validating actual sales actions, feedback, roadblocks, prospect and customer actions, etc. These include (small sample of actual client metrics) the following:

  1. At-risk deals (#’s, specific names, assigned representatives, etc.)

  2. Top deal watch list (revenue and margin #’s, names/clients, roadblocks, action plan status, etc.)

  3. Low sales performer watch list (names, action plans, mentor-ships, etc.)

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If there are no major risks, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 4A where we simply exit this process and enter another downstream process. 

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

A global element in this update forecast process is the embedded best practices that have been developed as a result of evolving the sales process continuously. These include (small sample):

  • Flagging the top 5 (based on revenue, important to company) at-risk sales deals.

  • Performing a weekly review of at-risk sales deals and coming up with an action plan for each, taking into account any sales process changes made above in element 3, step 4).

  • Updating the following metrics, key for sales management visibility:

  1. Number of at-risk deals weekly, monthly, YOY, etc.

  2. The success ratio of closed top deals vs. top deals lost.

  3. Average sales cycle duration & actual sales representative time spent selling.

Other Key sales metrics for the overall sales process to consider:

  1. Overall sales win rate.

  2. Average deal size.

  3. Lead average follow-up time. (The time a lead is received until a sale representative follows-up)

  4. Sales by lead source (important marketing to sales metric).

  5. Quota achievement % total and by sales representative.

  6. Based on a-c (and more) above, what are the action plans and automated workflows that need to be created to enact updated performance plan metrics?

 G) Sales Process Automation:

There is a huge difference between sales automation and sales process automation. Just because you purchased leading tools like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Zoho, etc. does not mean it will conform or deliver a highly automated sales process right out of the box. These tools can be customized to accommodate the automation of your sales process, but will take additional $$, effort and potentially additional licenses that you may not have accounted for in the initial expenditure of funds and resources. This step is as important as purchasing the package since without easy to use functionality and processes that aid the sales effort, the tool will be considered more of a hindrance that a help.

You will also need to automate your sales process via a number of other supporting tools that salesforce automation software packages are not optimized for out of the box such as the following:

  • E-mail process automation like triggered responses to new lead inquiries or automated bots on the website to interact and respond to simple initial inquiries.

  • Report generation being triggered based on system parameters, timing and critical thresholds being reached. Add on packages like Adobe, Tableau, Microstrategy, Oracle BI, SAS, Sisense, etc. all are great packages that can be added to bring additional horsepower to your sales analytics and reporting capabilities.

  • Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) can aid in the performance of sales tasks such as lead distribution, auto-populating CRM systems via intelligent voice capture and data mining following a phone sales call.

  • Pipeline & Order Management – tools like Vendasta can help automate the management of your pipeline and order management.

H) Other Sales Best Practices to Kick Your Sales Volume & Success into Overdrive:

While these are not related to the above sales process per say, I have included these as they are sales related and **some** clients choose to implement these practices, processes:

  • Analyze sales rainmaker activities & behavior and then replicate their best practices back into the overall sales process, training, activities, sales approaches. In this manner good sales reps move up to rainmaker performance, average sales reps move up to good performance, etc. I did this for a major U.S. insurance company a few years ago and it improved their overall sales performance by 32%!

  • Develop a referral incentive system with your existing customers as existing customer referrals are likely to close 50+% of the time, with strong personal referrals with testimonials likely to close at 80+%. Compare this to warm leads at <30% and cool leads at <15%. I did this as the SVP of Operations at a startup and it catapulted our sales from <$1m to over $3m in just 8 months.

  • Develop a network of complimentary re-sellers (a.k.a. channel sellers) of your services where the products and/or services you sell are complimentary to the re-sellers normal line business. For example, a firm that sells cultural improvement and/or leadership development services should be seeking out an HR consulting firm to resell their services since the HR firm is uncovering these needs on a regular basis with generally nowhere to turn for servicing unearthed client needs. The HR consulting firm would then net a commission (5-10%) for merely opening the door to the new sales opportunity for the leadership development firm. Analogous to this on the web is affiliate sales and marketing. 

  • Invite satisfied customers to participate in the brand: guest blogger, posting testimonials, reviewing new concepts, products and/or services, participating on a Customer Advisory Board (e.g. top customers), etc. Studies have shown that the more they are invited to participate in the brand’s success, the more likely they are to share your brand’s success.

  • Let your existing customers know about your sales wins: The more your customers see you succeed and the strides your are making in the marketplace, the more likely they are to share these positive news stories. Examples: xyz company is winning contracts left and right, they must be doing something right, xyz is on fire, xyz services are selling like hotcakes, etc.

Related to the above topic, does your organization need consulting assistance developing and implementing a world-class sales process or any of the following: associated services?

  • Replicating the processes and behavior of your sales rainmakers to the rest of the sales team?

  • Infusing a set of sales cross-industry leading practices in your existing sales process?

  • Developing a best practice sales measurement and metric system?

  • Automating the sales process to offload the non-value sales tasks from your sales team so they can focus on meeting with prospects/customers and closing deals?

  • Investigate how to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to sharpen your sales insights, targeting, lead generation flow, etc.?

If so, give me a call, I call help you implement sales process excellence that will  enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of sales performance and revenue.

Lastly, this is just one article of nearly 50 total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 120,000+ world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Measuring Merger & Acquisition (M&A) Cultural Risk and Compatibility (Target, Acquirer)

In this blog article, you will quickly learn the following:

  • What is the #1 success factor for M&A deals to succeed?

  • What are the top reasons M&A deals fail in terms of delivering the expected ROI?

  • The typical best practice M&A process and how this misses and/or plants a culture compatibility “ticking time bomb” that leads to the deal’s eventual failure.

  • The underlying reasons M&A deal makers are actually trying to hide these hidden M&A cultural time bombs that will leave them making top $$$ while leaving you holding an empty bag of cash in which cultures collide and chaos ensues

  • How pre-deal cultural compatibility & risks can now be measured!!

  • Examples of pre-deal measurement of Cultural Risk in M&A Deals

  • How to identify acquirer & target pre-deal cultural types

  • How to identify pre-deal culture conflict points

  • How to identify pre-deal cultural synergies (acquirer-target)

  • How you can actually change your M&A process to include pre-deal measurement of cultural risk and compatibility prior to deal closure!

Top Factors for M&amp;A Success

Culture is top factor in M&A Success

We all know in our gut or have heard that culture is a top factor that either makes or breaks a M&A deal. Above is the proof that it actually is #1.

Top Factors in M&amp;A Failures

Culture is a Main Factor as to Why M&A Fails

 

We also all have heard numerous stories as to how Culture consistently has made mergers a disaster, resulting in minimal or negative M&A deal return! Above is proof that culture is a top reason for M&A failures (reasons #2, #3, #4 & #8).

Typical M&amp;A Deal Lifecycle

Culture Is Typically Ignored Until Post M&A Deal

Yet, when we examine supposed best practice M&A process life-cycles as above, we are hard pressed to find where culture is even a consideration and cultural compatibility examination most likely comes post-deal closure when it is too late. Examining whether the two cultures will work well together post-deal is like trying to stop an accelerating train from crashing into the station at 150 MPH with less than a mile to go.

Measurable M&amp;A Cultural Compatibility Analysis Now Available!

Enter the new Cultural Measurement Tool, CultureTalk

Many that I speak to say that the main reason culture is ignored vs. the financials is that the deal makers want to profit from the transaction and are opposed to alerting the acquiring company of the latent risks.  

It is therefore mostly assumed that cultural incompatibility can be ‘managed’ via heavy handed company directives post-deal.  It lastly assumes that the ability to measure and quantify pre-deal cultural (in)compatibility is not possible. That last statement was most certainly true until culture analysis tools like CultureTalk were recently introduced to the marketplace.

First, some background on how CultureTalk was formulated. CultureTalk, is based on the work of Swiss psychotherapist Carl G. Jung who believed that human behaviors are guided by the same inner roadmap and by shared Archetype patterns.  CultureTalk answers the question ‘Who are we?’ in terms of which specific Archetype (1 of 12) best defines our overall organization.  CultureTalk also offers a companion tool to measure the Archetypes of individuals, which takes the work deeper and allows leaders to understand how their personal styles are contributing to success or conflict.

There aren’t good or bad Archetypes, but each has a strength and shadow side that we need to understand in order to drive maximized organizational effectiveness and this is especially true when merging two different Archetypal cultures.

Here is an overview of each of the 12 Archetypes:

CultureTalk Assigns Organizations (and Individuals) to 1 of 12 Archetypes

Based on Analysis Insights, CultureTalk Assigns Organizations (and Individuals) to 1 of 12 Archetypes

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

Each of the 12 Archtypes above comes with a set of predominant strengths (shown above) and shadows that need to be understood and managed.

CultureTalk Measures M&amp;A Cultural "Behavioral Gaps"

M&A Acquiring Company & Acquired Company Cultural & Gap Analysis

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

By performing an organizational CultureTalk assessment, M&A Deal makers and stakeholders can quickly determine the risks, compatibilities and behavior gaps that need to be managed.

M&amp;A Culture Conflict Analysis

CultureTalk Identifies Potential (Pre-Deal) M&A Culture Conflicts that need to be Managed

*Above Graphic components courtesy of CultureTalk and Brand Foundations

By performing an organizational deep dive assessment, M&A Deal makers and stakeholders can unearth all potential train wrecks that typically cause M&A deals to fail and then develop an action plan on how to manage these pending collision points to win-win scenarios (target company, acquirer).

Potential M&amp;A Culture Conflicts - Revealed, Pre-Deal

Actual Cultural Conflict Points for a Recent US M&A Deal

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk and Brand Foundations

By performing a culture quadrant conflict analysis, M&A Deal makers and stakeholders can identify and isolate the specific points where merging cultures are very likely going to collide. They can then develop an organizational mitigation design and organizational development road-map to carefully and judiciously manage to these conflict points. Without this, I have witnessed the meltdown of M&A deals and, most importantly – the death knell of companies, the rapid defection of customers at a non-sustainable long-term rate (hence my CRM connection to M&A and Culture).

 

CultureTalk Measures M&amp;A Cultural Synergies or "Connections"

CultureTalk Measures M&A Cultural Synergies or “Connections”

*Above Graphic components courtesy of CultureTalk and BrandFoundations

By performing a culture quadrant synergy analysis, M&A Deal makers and stakeholders can develop a plan for accelerating mutually compatible cultural connection (or compatibility) points. By identifying and capitalizing these cultural synergies, the two companies can adopt a hybrid culture consisting of the best of the best blended cultural practices.

That concludes my overview of measuring and managing cultural risk  pre M&A deal and how it can optimize the value of the M&A transaction

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in measuring the pre-deal M&A risk and then managing to this risk to optimize the merger investment, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 160,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

* CultureTalk is an organizational culture assessment and audit system that provides in-depth training and materials to deliver engagements with leaders and teams. (https://culturetalk.com/)

 

* Brand Foundations is a CultureTalk Certified Partner and utilizes the suite of assessments and tools to work with clients across diverse brand development and organizational culture projects. (http://www.brandfoundations.us/)

Leveraging Centers of Excellence Can Propel Your Company into a Market Leadership Position

How a Center of Excellence Can Benefit Your Company

How a Center of Excellence Can Benefit Your Company

COE

This blog is dedicated to educating you on a widely used function of many market leading companies, namely a center of excellence.  Specifically, I cover the following points associated with a center of excellence:

  1. Center of excellence definition (a.k.a. competency center or a capability center

  2. What benefits are gained by a company that develops & deploys a center of excellence

  3. What existing companies utilize centers of excellence

  4. What types of centers of excellence are typically setup and utilized

  5. Detailed example of the following:

    • Specific benefits of a type of center of excellence

    • The specific functions of a center of excellence

    • Typical services delivered by a center of excellence

    • Sample organizational structure for a center of excellence

    • On-off shore considerations for centers of excellence

Center of Excellence Definition

Center of Excellence Definition

Above: Center of excellence defined. Another way to think of a center of excellence is as an internal set of expert consultants available to assist you with specific sets of initiatives.

COE

Simpler Center of Excellence Definition

Simpler Center of Excellence Definition

Above is another, more simple, definition of a center of excellence.

COE

Center of Excellence Benefits

Center of Excellence Benefits

Above is a few (of many) benefits of implementing a center of excellence.  The most important aspect of a center of excellence is that it facilitates your company to getting ahead of your competitors and increases the chance that the company will attain market leader status.

COE

Companies That Have Utilized a Center of Excellence

Companies That Have Utilized a Center of Excellence

Above is a list of sample companies that utilize centers of excellence. In order to explore the details associated with these companies and their center(s) of excellence, merely Google the company name along with “center of excellence” to find out more. 

COE

Center of Excellence Applications

Center of Excellence Applications

Above are the types of centers of excellence that have been implemented by Fortune 500 companies in the past. Recently, I helped a Fortune 500 company implement both a CRM center of excellence (COE) and a Testing COE. We will perform a deeper dive into a testing center of excellence later in this post to illustrate a few details associated with a COE’s setup, operation, functions, etc.

COE

Testing Center of Excellence Example

Testing Center of Excellence Example with Functions and Benefits

The illustration above depicts the types of functions specifically delivered by a testing center of excellence (TCOE) as well as the associated benefits. For example, a TCOE maintains a training and certification function in order to help train other company teams on delivering higher quality testing and associated consumer products/services.

COE

Testing without a COE

Testing without a COE

“Hold on a minute you” might say at this point and then ask, “Why would you need a testing center of excellence (TCOE)?” Anticipating your potential push-back, the above illustrates the inefficiencies associated with performing one-off testing in a decentralized basis without TCOE support and oversight.

COE

Inefficiencies of Traditional Testing Methods

Inefficiencies of Traditional Testing Methods

The illustration above lists some specific examples of additional inefficiencies associated with performing case-by-case ad-hoc testing in lieu of having implemented a TCOE.

COE

Typical Functions Delivered by a Testing COE

Typical Functions Delivered by a Testing COE

What are the functions and/or organizational components of a testing COE you might ask? Above is my viewpoint on the typical organizational components and functions delivered by a TCOE. There are many others, but the above are the most frequent functions delivered by TCOE organizational components.  

COE

TCOE Delivered Testing Services

TCOE Delivered Testing Services

The first service typically delivered by a TCOE is to provide testing services to various company team and development initiatives. The above illustrates the types of testing services provided by a TCOE to other company teams/department. 

COE

TCOE Methods and Tools Delivery

TCOE Methods and Tools Delivery

The second service typically delivered by a TCOE is to develop, maintain and deploy testing methods, tools and processes to other company departments and associated testing initiatives. 

COE

TCOE Expert Services Delivery

TCOE Expert Services Delivery

The third service typically delivered by a TCOE is to provide consulting style expertise to other company departments and associated testing initiatives. 

COE

TCOE On/Off-Shore Considerations

That concludes my overview of what a center of excellence is and what it can do for your company.

If your organization is seeking world-class and experienced assistance developing and implementing a center of excellence or any of the following: associated services:

  1. Determining whether there is a viable business case to implement a COE

  2. Developing a strategic implementation plan for COE

  3. Developing an organizational structure and resource plan for a COE

  4. Developing a COE pilot program

If yes, please give me a call, I call help you implement world-class center of excellence that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of market performance and share.

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 160,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

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