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

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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 and Focus 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 year.  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

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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/

Brand Management 101 Primer for Non-Marketing/Brand Senior Executives (CEOs, COOs, CSOs, CHROs, CFOs, CIOs, etc.)

 

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

The Brand Process Life-Cycle

During my career non-brand professionals and executives have asked me privately what the brand life-cycle looks like from a 50,000 foot level (a.k.a. a simplified elevator pitch version). I finally sat down the other day to map this life-cycle process out and the above chart is the simplified (level 0) representation of this process. I am calling this my brand management primer 101 for non-brand and marketing executives (CFOs, CSOs, CHROs, CIOs, etc.). The overall process consists of four (4) major life-cycle stages as follows:

  1. Plan the Brand – Plan the brand such that both quantitative and qualitative brand goals are achieved

  2. Position the Brand – Ensure the brand is positioned well in terms of market, competitors, customers, prospects, etc.

  3. Deliver the brand promise – Deliver upon the expectations of the brand in terms of stakeholders, regulators, customers, brand interested, etc.

  4. Analyze the Brand – Determine if the brand is reaching its intended goals in #1 above

For each of the phases above, I included a sample objective (one of many) for each phase. These objectives while similar across many companies, the specifics objectives would be tailored for each individual company.  The important thing to remember with the above is that the life-cycle processes need to be constantly reviewed and enhanced over time utilizing a continuous improvement process approach and methodology.

Included in the above graphic is a sampling of analysis techniques for each lifecycle phase. When the process lifecycle details are determined, the analysis and ‘health check’ metrics would also be determined in order to continually gauge the overall progress of the brand toward a set of goals and objectives.

For those more analytically inclined and as an example, we might decide to use a time series or multivariate analysis in determining the marketing effectiveness on the brand(s) in the “Analyze the Brand” phase. On the other hand, a time series analysis would be used to help illuminate brand trends, issues and opportunities in historical data over a period of time as well as be used to predict future values based on previously observed values. For example, it can be used to illustrate the brand decline curve of defecting customers beyond the time that a brand is first launched as to predict the rate of decline into the future for use in projecting future revenues.

Brand Health Analysis Techniques

Brand Health Analysis Techniques

The chart above highlights two of the brand analysis techniques mentioned in the previous graphic, that being the Brand Pyramid (Health) Analysis (also commonly referred to as the brand funnel analysis if viewed from bottom to top) and the Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis. This is meant as an overview, the next graphic takes a deep dive into each analysis technique. The key to the above chart are the questions to the left of each section as these a key in determining overall brand health.

Brand Pyramid (Strength) Analysis

Brand Pyramid (Strength) Analysis

The above chart illustrates the Brand Pyramid (strength) analysis and is sometimes also referred to as the brand health funnel analysis. In this consumers are queried about a set of questions regarding the brand. In order to qualify for the next level query, the consumer must have answered “yes” to ALL of the previous, lower level questions. For example, a consumer would need to “buy” the product to be able to “use” and only then would they be able to rate how well “satisfied with” they are with the brand (products/services).

In a perfect world, the pyramid would look more like a square with 100% of people going from “aware” all the up to “pay premium”, but the above represents the real life pyramid and what real brand analysis results typically look like.

Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis

Brand Pyramid Conversion Analysis

The above brand pyramid conversion analysis measures the brand health slightly differently in that these are the conversion rates of audiences at each level of the brand pyramid.  To use an example, if 100 people were queried about the brand, a full 93.5% were aware of it. Of that 93.5%, 89.5% were familiar. Of the 89.5% that were familiar, only 83.5% (or 69.8 on previous chart) had a high opinion of the brand. This analysis reveals that, while people were familiar with the brand, many didn’t think very highly of the brand due to some negative perception that will need to be determined for root cause(s) (i.e. pricing, quality, warranty, features, etc.).

Is your organization planning on launching new brand or optimizing an existing one? If so, give me a call, I call help you achieve world-class brand programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of brand management excellence.

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 158,000+ 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/

 

Developing an Enterprise Level Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Strategy & Road-map

Enterprise CRM Strategy Development Framework

Enterprise Customer & CRM Strategy Development Framework

The chart above is a framework I have used to guide the development and future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. This framework is comprised of the following major components that must be taken into account in developing a customer strategy & roadmap (from bottom to top) :

  1. Major customer segments that exist comprise the foundation of the framework. These need to be taken into consideration as the major customer stakeholders that either are in place, or need to be defined as part of the future-state strategy.

  2. The customer channel content that exists and will be needed moving forward once the major customer segments have been determined.

  3. The partner matrix and partner relationship model that exists and will be needed – types of partners, partner distribution model, partner communications methods, partner acquisition model, etc.

  4. The current and future customer touch-points specifications – usage, volume, delivery method, cost structure, etc.

  5. Major customer, partner and market insights that exist and that are needed in the future.

  6. The current and needed future state model for customer facing operations and capabilities that exist within each functional area.

  7. The existing and future engagement model that will operate through the customer channels, utilizing the information/insights and channel and customer specific content, etc. – cost structure, automation, key strategies in each (sell in service, one and done customer service, etc.)

  8. Finally the top of the pyramid, the customer and CRM strategy that drives all other structure capabilities and operating models as defined through a series of workshops shown later in this article.

graphic2

High Level Enterprise CRM Transformation Approach

The chart above is a depiction of the transformation approach I have used to guide the development of the actual CRM strategy shown on the top of the pyramid from the last chart. In this chart we have the following:

  1. Left side, “Synthesize Insights” – Depicts sample insights that need to be gathered and synthesized on the left in order to determine a realistic future state customer strategy and roadmap.

  2. Top, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The delivery, governance and oversight structures that must oversee and manage the delivery of a final customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap.

  3. Middle, under “CRM Transformation Approach” – The major program phases in the delivery of the future state customer strategy and roadmap as well as the major goals and deliverables from each phase.

  4. Right side, under “Net Positive Impact” – The major positive impacts from the development of a customer strategy and 5+ year roadmap stated in both quantitative measures (via a business case) and qualitative dimensions.

 

CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

CRM Opportunity Assessment Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to assess the CRM (future-state) opportunities at a large multi-national company. While I start with this CRM process flow to accelerate the delivery of a customer strategy and roadmap, each is tailored to each client situation and set of requirements. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Opportunity Assessment Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders whereby many of the components listed in the above flowchart are actually defined.

 “To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

“To Be”, Future-State CRM Strategy Definition

The chart above details a small sample of the steps details that exist within the “CRM Opportunity Assessment” processes step. In this particular example, we must define the major customer strategies we want moving forward as well as the supporting details to successfully deliver the strategy:

  1. Performance metrics that will be put in place to monitor the success of the overall program once the customer/CRM strategy is implemented

  2. Budget & governance structure that will manage both the implementation of the strategy as well its ongoing operation of the program

  3. Program success criteria for the strategy to be considered a success

  4. Specific programs and projects to deliver the strategy

  5. The stated strategic goals for each defined customer strategy

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

CRM Strategy & Roadmap Development Process

The chart above is the high level process (level 0) I have used to develop a future operational model of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and roadmap for a large multi-national company. I full project plan that includes task dependencies, project critical path, logical sequencing of project tasks, resourcing plan, etc. accompanies the above chart during an actual client project. This also includes a detailed approach and plan for conducting a series of “CRM Definition Workshops” attended by key executives and stakeholders that provide direct input into the future-state CRM strategy & road-map.

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

Strategic CRM Goals Definition Process

The chart above highlights the details associated with developing the specific and measurable objectives for a future state CRM & customer strategy. These details are highly variable and need to be tailored based on the specifics associated with the client’s market & requirements, budget, competition, market/customer gaps, etc.

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/

 

The Future of Marketing and Customer Engagement – Introducing the Emerging and Rapidly Growing Practice of the Customer Defined Experience

Did you ever consider the following questions related to the future of marketing and customer engagement?:

  • What are the levels of progression of an organization’s customer engagement and marketing capabilities – from the most basic to advanced?

  • What percentage of companies fall into each customer engagement & marketing capability level?

  • What is beyond the current advanced level of customer engagement and marketing capability and the wave of the future?

  • How do you simultaneously and significantly reduce the overall cost of customer engagement and marketing delivery while also significantly increasing your overall customer engagement and marketing effectiveness?

  • What does the future look like in terms of increased customer engagement and marketing ROI?

  • What is the most effective method for creating maximized customer engagement?

If you did, then this blog is for you as it succinctly answers these questions and more.

Future Leading Practice: The Customer Defined Experience
Future Leading Practice: The Customer Defined Experience

The above chart depicts the 3 primary & existing levels of customer engagement sophistication as well as the wave of the future which is The “Customer Defined Experience”. These four (4)  levels of organizational customer engagement capability are as follows:

1) Level 1 – “Shotgun Customer Experience”, very unsophisticated, yet inexpensive. Practiced by approximately 25% of companies.

2) Level 2 – “Segmented Customer Experience”, somewhat sophisticated and moderately expensive. Practiced by a majority of companies, approximately 70%.

3) Level 3 – “1-to-1 Customer Experience”, very sophisticated & expensive, Practiced by <5% of companies.

4) Level 4 – “Customer Defined Experience  which is an emerging leading practice, only practiced by <01% of companies, but the number of companies that are moving toward this capability level is growing fast. I am predicting that this will be, by far, the most effective method in terms of both ROI and cost effectiveness.

The Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Illustration

The Customer Defined Experience Using Marketing as an Example

We will now isolate marketing as a functional example (vs. customer service, sales, etc.) to illustrate how the customer defined experience will be different than traditional marketing practices. The above chart depicts the traditional levels of marketing sophistication and the expected ROI of each level. The newest trend in marketing and customer experience is also revealed in future level called “Customer Defined Experience, Marketing”. Each level consists of the following marketing practices:

  • Level 1: Primary focus on “Shotgun” marketing (approximately 25% of companies). In this approach, companies  send the same offer to as many people as possible with the hope that some of them might take the offer being put forth. With this practice, companies send the same offer to customers and prospects, regardless of their unique interests, needs, wants, history, etc.

  • Level 2: Primary focus on “Segment Marketing” (approximately 70% of companies). This approach models the behavior and history of customers in order to group them into unique ‘tagged’ needs groups. They are then sent offers that appeal to that distinct segment group.

  • Level 3: Primary focus on “1-to-1 marketing” (<5% of companies). This approach combines sophisticated modeling techniques and artificial intelligence to ascertain the unique needs of each customer or micro-segments (depending on the level of marketing technology sophistication, pure 1-to-1 marketing might not be able to be achieved). Companies that use this level of sophistication are few and we can point to major credit card companies, Amazon, Google as models utilizing this type of approach.

  • Level 4: Future Emerging Practice “User Defined Marketing”. (<.01% of companies, but growing fast) Companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Marriott and Southwest Airlines are headed in this direction with the increasing querying of their customers on preferences, needs, wants, likes, etc. The extension of this is to allow customers to define their own experience – how/when they would like to be marketed to, by which channel, which content/tone they prefer, etc. As evidenced by increasing numbers of customer insights groups, this is the trend of the future. Instead of expending all of the effort in modeling/AI/etc. to attain 1-to-1 marketing which attains a 80+% match, why not ask your customers what they want/prefer which will ensure a 100% match to their needs nearly 100% of the time? Research I have conducted has indicated that 72% of customers want a more interactive ‘relationship’ with the companies they do business with, including defining their own customer-company experience – across all of their company touch-points: sales, marketing, customer service, warranty claims, etc. More on this point later in this article.

 

Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Example

Customer Defined Experience, Marketing Example

The above chart is arranged by the levels of marketing sophistication across the top with the following categories arranged on the left for each marketing level:

  • Primary Marketing Focus – What marketing activity do organizations at this level of capability primarily focus their efforts?

  • Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: For each level of marketing capability, how proactive is the marketing organization and what is the major focus of their marketing analysis?

  • Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: For each level of marketing capability, what are the primary technology enablers in order for them to achieve their marketing goals?

  • Main Marketing Metric: For each level of marketing capability, what are the most important marketing metrics?

  • Expected Marketing Approach ROI: For each level of marketing capability, what is the expected ROI and return on marketing for following this approach.

Level 1 Capability -Shotgun Marketing

Level 1 Capability – Shotgun Marketing

Shotgun Marketing Practices

Shotgun Marketing Practices

 

Let’s examine the first level of marketing capability, that being Shotgun Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus for these organizations is to expand their pool of those who will receive their marketing promotions so that there will be likely someone in the mix who will be interested and respond to their canned & generic offer. I heard a comment from a marketing organization I worked for whereby the general manager (overall leader) of the business actually said to me – “just widen the list and I don’t care if Mickey Mouse is on the list, as long as we have 1,000,000’s of folks to send our e-mail to.”

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level is generally a reactive,  whereby the main focus is post campaign execution analysis and ‘seeing how we did in terms of number of responses they had to their offer(s)’.

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: As you would expect at this level of marketing capability, technology  is generally very basic, rudimentary and inexpensive and would typically include simple and flat file (i.e. Comma Separated Value (.CSV) files) list generation using MS Access or Excel for list generation and very similar and simple spreadsheet type tools for post campaign analysis.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted above is reactive and post campaign focused, the main metric almost obsessed on by organizations at this marketing capability level is response rates (vs. true sales lead creation rates and actual conversion rates).

Bottom Line with Shotgun marketing organizations: With approach you save $$ by relying on very unsophisticated marketing personnel, processes, technology but this approach rarely produces a high marketing ROI with response rates generally in the 1-2% range due to the inherent high outbound volume. This approach also annoys customers and marketing recipients with mostly irrelevant offerings, products, services, etc., customer risking opt-outs, complaints, ignoring any/all offers by customers/prospects from the same (annoying) company, etc.

Level 2: Segment Marketing
Level 2 Capability: Segment Marketing
Segment Marketing Practices

Segment Marketing Practices

The 2nd level of marketing capability, is Segment Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus for these organizations is to ensure that the right marketing and sales offers are deployed against the appropriate segment group in order to ensure a marketing lift vs. shotgun marketing practices. An example of this is sending the frugal buyer segment offers for saving $$ by buying quantity of product or by sending offers for products that are discounted (i.e about to be discontinued products) vs. full price products.

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level is generally what I call a ‘retrospective plus’ organization whereby the main focus is post campaign execution analysis and determining the quantitative results (response metrics, plus  perhaps ROI metrics) PLUS the main root cause analysis as to why the campaign yielded in these quantitative results.

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler: At this level of marketing capability, technology in use is fairly sophisticated such as using SAS for building segment models and customer deciles and tools for campaign execution like Salesforce.com and post campaign analysis tools like Adobe and Tableau.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted above is quasi-reactive and post campaign, the main metric  obsessed on by organizations is overall campaign and segment level response rates as well as ROI if the organization has built a direct response attribution model for campaigns (matching campaign responses to actual customer purchases).

Bottom Line with Segment marketing organizations: By utilizing this approach you spend more $$ by relying on somewhat sophisticated marketing personnel, processes and technology.  This  approach also produces a higher marketing ROI than basic shotgun marketing with response rates generally greater than the 3% range. This approach also ensures segments and marketing recipients within those segments are receiving mostly relevant offerings, products, services, etc. in respect to their needs, wants, preferences, etc.

Level 3 Capability: 1-to-1 Marketing
Level 3 Capability: 1-to-1 Marketing

1-to-1 Marketing Practices

The 3rd level of marketing capability is 1-to-1 Marketing. These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: This strategy strives to ensure that the right marketing and sales offers are deployed against the appropriate individual customer (vs. segment groups)  in order to ensure additional marketing lift vs. segment marketing practices. An example of this is recommending a product that uniquely suits and individual customer’s needs when they are your website for another reason (customer service, billing, warranty claim, etc.).

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The label is place on organizations at this capability level is generally what I call a ‘proactive predictive’ organization whereby they are recommending items to customers in real-time based on their specific needs profile. The analysis focus of this type of organization is real-time algorithmic learning by analyzing the effect of the real-time offers and then adapting algorithms to further refine the offer (e.g. slightly different product, slightly different price, better warranty coverage, etc.)

Primary Marketing Technology Enabler:  The technology in use for 1-to-1 marketing is very sophisticated and correspondingly expensive.  The goal is to use artificial intelligence for building individual customer profiles based on observed customer behavior.  Automated response engines are then used for real-time customer interactions and offer generation as well as ‘adaptive learning’ algorithms based on offer acceptance/rejection.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the focus noted in 1-to-1 marketing is proactive and real-time, the main metric is customer longitudinal behavior and associated key metrics like lifetime value, loyalty rates, etc.

Bottom Line with 1-to-1 marketing organizations: With this approach you spend a great deal more $$ up-front by relying on very sophisticated artificial intelligence with automated customer analytics and offer engine technology.  This approach does produce a much higher marketing ROI than segment marketing with response rates conservatively greater than the 8-10+% range.  This approach also ensures customers and marketing recipients are receiving extremely relevant offerings, products, services, etc. in respect to their needs, wants, preferences, etc.

Level 4 Capability: Customer Defined Marketing

Level 4 Capability: Customer Defined Marketing

Customer Defined Marketing Practices

Customer Defined Marketing Practices

The 4th level of marketing capability is The Customer Defined Marketing (& Experience). These organizations have the following organizational characteristics:

Primary Marketing Focus: The primary focus here is to ensure, for those customers who are willing to co-define their own experience with your company and brands, that there is an opt-in conduit whereby customers can self-define what type of marketing and customer experience they will have across all touch-points. Examples of this is allowing customers to define, through their own personalized ‘preference portals’, customer experience parameters such as the following:

1) Their tolerable periodicity of how often they want to be marketed to;

2) Selecting the channels they prefer for marketing, customer service, product recalls, etc. ;

3) Preferred time of day, week that they would like to receive marketing, communications;

4) When it is warranted to override their current opt-out settings (i.e. critical product defects notifications).

5) The specific types of content customers are interested in subscribing to;

6) The types of offers customers would like to receive – closeouts, higher end products, types of products/services, etc.;

7) …Many more customer defined parameters.

By enabling these customer-defined preferences above, you are approaching 100% in terms of ensuring the customer receives the right offer, by the right channel, at the right time, etc.

Marketing Proactivity, Analysis Main Focus: The main orientation and focus for organizations at this level of (future) capability is generally what I call a ‘proactive, holistic, continuous’ organization whereby the company is continuously seeking to deliver the desired customer experience with the goal from each customer is rating the company as being rated as extremely open, engaging, encouraging proactive listening, is a good and reliable brand partner, drives high levels of customer satisfaction, etc.

Primary Marketing Technology Enablers: With this level of marketing capability, the technology is not as sophisticated (or expensive) as in 1-to-1 marketing, but requires a paradigm shift back to aligning with the basic premise that the customer is always right and enabling customers to self-define their preferred marketing and overall customer experience through preference portals (enabling the self-defined experience) and through business process rule workflow engines like Pega Systems to deliver the customer defined experience.

Main Marketing Metric: Since the organizational orientation as noted above is proactive and continuous, the main metric almost obsessed on by organizations at this marketing capability level will be ongoing levels of customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

Bottom Line with Customer Defined Marketing (& Experience) organizations: With this approach you spend less $$ by relying on sophisticated marketing personnel, processes, and technology.  The strategy  is expected to produce a much higher marketing ROI than all other marketing capability levels by enabling the customer defined experience and inherently having 100% accuracy rate (customer defined needs/preference = delivered customer marketing/experience).  This approach also ensures customers and marketing recipients are receiving TOTALLY (self-defined)  relevant and preferred offerings, products, services, and communications.

In implementing this solution, companies will have to take into account the following considerations:

1) Not all customers will want to opt into defining their own experience. By using lucrative opt-in incentives companies have been able to achieve nearly 70% participation rates by customers. The remaining customers can be managed by simultaneously utilizing any of the two previous capability levels of segment marketing and/or 1-to-1 side-by-side with customer defined marketing.

2) Delivering a unique customer experience, once defined, will be difficult. By utilizing automated work-flow and business rules engines in conjunction with marketing automation and service automation tools, pathways (e.g. customer use cases) can be set up to automatically deliver the desired customer experience for sets of customers with the same defined preferences.

3) The customer really doesn’t know what they want. I constantly hear  from business leaders and CxOs that the customer doesn’t really know what they want/need so why waste the time and expense to ask them. These are the same executives who are shocked when I provide customer insights or focus group feedback that consistently and totally contradicts their own perception of how the customer perceives their company and brand(s). I applaud the business leader brave enough to ask for these insights since the majority of business leader tout their great pulse on their customer base to internal stakeholders without ever validating these claims with actual customers. In addition, customers today are extremely savvy, sophisticated and aware and want to be in control of their own company/brand experience.

4) Customer won’t really spend the time to tell us what they need/want. A customer insights group I helped developed has 5,000 current members who are required to volunteer several hours a week providing a Tier 1 US bank with feedback on different pre-market launch products, services and approaches. There are another several thousand on a waiting list waiting to join this insights group to volunteer several hours a week to provide company/brand insights. Additionally, the loyalty level of this insights group toward the bank is 57% higher than non-members with members providing verbatim feedback on their participation in the insights group as follows:

1) “Finally a bank that listens to its customers”

2) “We consider bank {xyz} to be a great brand partner”

3) “{xyz} bank totally breaks the paradigm of most ivory tower banks just throwing products at you to buy, they actually care about our opinions and listen to us”

4) “They actually give us feedback on how our suggestions are shaping their future products and services – WOW!”

Therefore, the bottom line is that customers today are very eager to become a brand-partner provided you ask them, allow their direct company-brand participation.

Expected Marketing ROI Per Capability Level
Expected Marketing ROI Per Capability Level

The above graphic points to the fact that, with every increase in marketing sophistication and accuracy in providing your customers and prospects what they need/prefer, the increase in ROI also rises dramatically. The holy grail of this is the practice of Customer Defined Marketing and the abandonment of the expense and exercise of hypothesis building and refinement (iteratively guessing at what your customers want/need) and simply providing a conduit in order that your customers tell you precisely what they want/need/prefer. My research has shown that over 70% of a typical sophisticated customer base is more than willing to tell you what they want/need from your company.

Join the ranks of market leader like Wells Fargo, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Ritz-Carlton, Bank of America and many more joining the customer defined experience future who query their customers on their wants, needs, preferences, likes/dislikes, etc.

Therefore, instead of your company spending a great deal of $$ on ever more sophisticated hypothesis building (intelligent guessing) what your customers want and prefer, just simply ask them and join the ranks of these market leaders that are participating in the emerging practice of the future – the customer defined experience.

The Basic S4 (S**4) Building Blocks to Creating and Implementing an Effective Customer Strategy

4S - Customer Strategy Building Blocks

4S – Customer Strategy Building Blocks

 

The following blog article will succinctly and effectively answer the following questions as related to developing and deploying an effective customer strategy:

  • What are the basic building blocks of an effective customer strategy ecosystem?

  • What is the function of each process in this customer delivery ecosystem?

  • What are the critical questions that must be answered by each function in this ecosystem?

  • How can you develop an effective customer strategy that delivers maximized customer satisfaction simultaneous to maximized profitability?

  • What is the checklist to ensuring your customer strategy and delivery is effective?

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle

The Building Blocks of the Customer Strategy Life Cycle

 

Above are the basic building blocks to delivering an effective customer experience.  Each process is designed to work in an ongoing continuous ecosystem (loop) in order to deliver a personalized customer experience that matches the customer’s current and future needs, preferences, etc.

Let’s examine each process and how it supports the overall infrastructure model.

  • Segment – the analogy for the segment process is that the more and differentiated customer knowledge you have, the better you will be able separate customers into unique needs groups in order to deliver a unique experience that they truly value.

  • Separate – Once you have effectively segmented your customers and prospects into unique needs groups, you can then start to separate them in order to deliver differentiated and 1-on-1 treatments that are uniquely valuable to each of those customer segment groups.

  • Satisfy – The next step in the process is to deliver content and programs that deliver value, not only to the needs of the overall segment group, but also delivers value to every customer sub-segment within the overall segment group via program sub-segment delivery structures. This is accomplished by delivering customized 1-to-1 customer programs that effectively leverage the unique customer insights gathered (history, needs, preferences, likes, dislikes, previous pain points, etc.).

  • Stratify – The last step in this foundational process is to develop program that migrate customers from low value segments to ever increasing higher value segments. The goal of this process to increase customer’s overall spend, overall share of wallet with the company and overall loyalty and brand ‘stickiness’ such that migrating to a competitor and defecting becomes increasingly difficult. In addition, the migration of customer to higher value segments should also increase the customer’s brand advocacy ranking such that there is a correlation between higher value customer segments and their likelihood to be more likely brand super-advocates {see blog on this topic titled “Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy ” : Achieving Market Leadership by Effectively Managing Customer Loyalty and Advocacy  }

The 4S Customer Capabilities

The 4S Customer Capabilities

 

Critical Questions Answered by Each Process in the Above Customer Delivery Ecosystem:

  • Segment – What specific data elements and insights can we leverage or collect to increase our ability to develop unique customer treatment groups.

  • Separate – Which customer groups does it make sense to develop and deliver differentiated treatment strategies based on profitability models?

  • Satisfy – What are the optimal customer treatment strategies that can simultaneously optimize customer profitability, loyalty, brand advocacy and customer growth objectives?

  • Stratify – How do we deliver a progressive and tiered customer program to differentiate ourselves vs. our competitors and grow our market share?

Summary: You might read many complex articles on what a good customer strategy should be based on, but the above basic foundational building blocks are a simple way to start thinking about your customer ecosystem and what corporate capabilities need to be put in place to deliver effective customer and market success.

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