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


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


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


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.


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:


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


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


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.


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


  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


B) Mario’s New Lebanon, NY:

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

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

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

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant


3) Retail:

 A) 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 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:


B) 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:


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


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


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:


  • 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.


  • 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.


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.



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

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, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

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”.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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).


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.


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.


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


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, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here:

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

What you will learn in this blog article:

  1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Top Company Cultures

1. What exactly is corporate culture – simple definition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Top 5 Companies that have superb corporate cultures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refer to “Vendor Ratings Disclaimer” below*. 

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

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

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

1. CultureIQ:

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

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

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

CultureIQ Approach Overview

CultureIQ Approach Overview

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

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

  1. Designing a Global Listening Program

  2. Conducting Executive Briefings (culture readouts)

  3. Providing Total Rewards Optimization

  4. Conducting Culture Focus Groups

  5. Culture Design and Evaluation

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

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

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

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

2. CultureTalk:

A. CultureTalk Background:

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

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

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

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

The 12 Cultural Archetypes of CultureTalk

*Above Graphic courtesy of CultureTalk

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

B. CultureTalk’s Key Differentiator:

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

CultureTalk's Culture Focus Areas

CultureTalk’s Culture Focus Areas

C. CultureTalk’s focus areas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Denison:

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

B. Denison’s Key Differentiator:

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

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

Denison Model Overview

Denison Model Overview

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

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

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

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

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

Denison's Cultural Change Book

Denison’s Cultural Change Book

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

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

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

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

4. DISC:

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

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

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

5. MBTI – Myers-Briggs®:

Myers-Briggs® is a survey based system that defines individual types of team members and leaders as well as defining what they call function pairs. The cultural discovery comes when Myers-Briggs® function pairs are then mapped to cultural patterns within an organization and common organization cultural practices. Here are the 4 cultural pairs as shown from the Myers-Briggs website (

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

Culture Top 5 Tool/Vendor Capability Chart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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.

The Formula for Creating a Positive Chain Reaction with Your Customers and Clients To Win & Keep Them for Life


Introducing the Theory of Customer-Relativity


Theory Of Customer Relativity


Danger – Critical Mass With Your Customers Ahead !


Relativity – Treat Customer Like Family

Treating customers, clients and guests like your close relatives will create lasting customer loyalty lasting many generations.


Memorable Guest Experience Formula


Critical Mass Formula for Customer Excellence


Derived Benefits from the Customer-Relative Relativity Formula

Following the customer theory of relativity formula can net your company a distinctive customer competitive advantage


Family Like Customers


Critical Mass Formula for Customer Excellence


Listen Intently – Family & Customers

Listen intently to your customers for improvement gifts in order to improve upon your product and service delivery


Welcome – Family & Customers


Fulfill Special Requests – Family & Customers

Discovering and fulfilling unmet customer needs is a golden opportunity for you to grow your business


Made to Feel Welcome – Family & Customers

Leveraging gathered insights can help you surprise & delight your customers by anticipating and pre-delivering (without having to be requested) on customer needs and preferences


Gather & Leverage Needs & Preferences to Surprise & Delight Your Guests



Make Your Guests Feel at Home – Family & Customers

Delivering on a company environment that drives a feeling of belonging, contentment, ‘connectedness’ will endear your customers to your company and brand and make them loyal for life



Ensure the end-to-end guest experience ‘chain’ is optimal, memorable, etc.

Mapping, analyzing and applying continuous improvement to the end-to-end guest experience on an ongoing basis will ensure each step of that experience chain is high quality and optimal



Hire & Maintain World-Class (1-in-10,000) Customer Ambassadors who treat customers like family



Top 3 Keys to Delivering an Exceptional Customer/Client Experience

  1. Hire passionate ‘customer ambassadors’ and empower them to drive your customer & client experience. These ambassadors are typically extremely difficult to find and are generally a 1-in-1,000 find, but if you know you have found one when many of your public reviews mention this person by name as delivering exceptional (family like) customer service.

  2. Adopt a customer/client first set of policies and practices that empower your entire team to make right any customer perceived imperfection, unmet need, etc. in the delivery of your products and/or services. This is similar of how you would go out of your way to ensure your relatives are comfortable when visiting as guests.

  3. To support #2 above, develop a listening & learning system to collect, retain and then deliver on expressed customer/client needs, wishes, preferences, etc. Ritz-Carlton does this extremely well with their guests and it shows in terms of attained customer satisfaction levels.


By employing an E=MC² formula and treating your customers comparable to your relatives, you will create a positive chain reaction experience unlike any other and enable your company to leapfrog your competitors. This formula has worked for numerous companies employing those 1-in-a-thousand customer ambassadors who care about customer with all their heart as they do they own relatives.

Measuring Marketing ROI vs. Measuring Customer Value & Equity

Hierarchy of Marketing ROI Analysis (Levels 1-4)

Hierarchy of Marketing ROI Analysis (Levels 1-4)

In this blog we cover the following topics:

  1. The four (4) levels of sophistication in measuring marketing and customer ROI
  2. The three traditional levels of marketing ROI that focus on spend vs. return
  3. The calculations for measuring campaign ROI, Brand ROI and Customer Spend ROI
  4. Why measuring customer value and equity is a far better measure than traditional marketing ROI
  5. How Customer Value and Equity Covers the Measurement of ALL customer facing activity – marketing, PR, sales, customer service, community relations, etc.
  6. What your company needs to do to increase its sophistication of measuring market and customer insights

The following chart depicts the capability levels for measuring market ROI and customer value.

Level 1: Campaign centric ROI is the measurement, at a campaign level, of campaign costs vs. campaign return (customer spend vs. campaign return)

Level 2: Brand Centric ROI is the measurement, at a brand level, of brand return for all conducted campaigns (roll up of campaign ROI to a brand level)

Level 3: Customer Spend ROI is the sum of all brand and all brand campaign ROI at a customer level.

Levels of Marketing ROI Measurement (Levels 1-4)

Levels of Marketing ROI Measurement (Levels 1-4)

The following chart defines the first three levels of marketing ROI and points out the pros and cons for utilizing each method. The downfall for all three methods, as indicated at the bottom of the chart, is that they rely on historical spend vs. forward looking measures as are found in Level 4 – Customer Value and Equity Measures.

Traditional Marketing & Customer ROI Methods (Levels 1-3)

Traditional Marketing & Customer ROI Methods (Levels 1-3)

The following chart depicts the calculations for determining campaign level and brand level ROI that, if done correctly, should roll up to a customer level (Level 3 – Customer Spend ROI). The detailed definition of the highest level (Level 4 – Customer Value & Equity) is covered just below in this blog.

Levels 1 – 3 Focus on Spend vs. Customer Value and Equity

Levels 1 – 3 Focus on Spend vs. Customer Value and Equity

The following chart defines the components of Level 4 ROI analysis – “Customer Value and Equity”.  This level includes the roll-up for Customer Spend ROI, but also includes insights that predict customer future behavior as well as defining how valuable the customer is to the company beyond what they spend.

For example, a customer who is referring 2-3 customers to the company per week, participating in customer focus groups is a far more valuable customer than another customer with equal spend with your company.  

Similar to company stock value, the measurement of customer value and equity is a far more robust way to measure the value of the customer base, how likely they are to remain a loyal customer, etc. 

Customer Value & Equity Calculations, as shown below includes several different indices such as Customer Contribution Index (CCI), Customer Perception Index (CPI), Customer Referral Index (CRI) and Customer Loyalty Index (CLI). These indices help determine the overall health of the customer base vs. merely customer spend as is associated with levels 1-3 (spend focused).

Customer Value and equity calculations take into account the level 1-3 spend ROI measures, but utilizes a balanced scorecard approach in that the indices above are weighted against the spend vs. ROI measures. For example, if Brand A has a high ROI but also has a bunch of irate customers unwilling to partner and participate in brand activities, then this is indicative of a brand that, while doing well now, will experience a great deal of future customer churn, negative social comments, brand tarnishing, etc.

Level 4 Marketing ROI Analysis - Customer Value & Equity

Level 4 Marketing ROI Analysis – Customer Value & Equity

The following chart further defines the difference between focusing on spend ROI analysis vs. focusing on customer value and equity.

Value of Focusing on Customer Value & Equity

Value of Focusing on Customer Value & Equity

The last chart provides some real examples of the difference between focusing on spend ROI analysis vs. focusing on customer value and equity.

Examples of Differences Between Spend ROI  Focus vs. Customer Value & Equity Focus

Examples of Differences Between Spend ROI
Focus vs. Customer Value & Equity Focus

The bottom line here is that if you are focusing on Level 1-3 ROI calculations, you have a short-term and myopic view of the health and value of your customer base and are missing the strategic and longer-term insights that enable you to determine customer, company and brand future value and earnings.

Any company thinking about acquiring another should perform this robust customer diagnostic to determine if they are inheriting a group of angry/upset customers that will defect after a merger or a set of extremely valuable customers with positive customer equity who will take the stock value of the merged company to the stratosphere.

Contact me to find out how to move past traditional marketing ROI measurement and how to evolve into developing more robust customer value and equity insights for your company.  

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model – Part 2: The Necessary Components.

1) Introduction:

In my previous blog, I covered what the new Customer Relevant Relationship Model (CRRM) is and the benefits of adopting this new model. In this blog, I will cover the components of the new CRRM model and what you need to put in place to make this new model a reality.

Ever wonder why companies like ESPN, Apple, Google, Zynga, Amazon, and Marriott dominate their respective markets? The reason is that they are ‘Customer First’ organizations and are passionate about listening to, understanding and then delighting their customers based on leveraging true customer insights. They treat their customers as business partners vs. commodities and include them in many critical decision making processes. They get this new CRRM model. Why/how ? – Read the rest of this blog to find out…

The differences between the old CRM model and how these companies are embracing the newer CRRM model are depicted in the following chart:

The Old CRM Model vs. New CRRM Model – Customers as Business Partners

2) Customers are fed up with old Dictatorial Management Style & Want to be Empowered as Business Partners

Customers and stakeholders today are longing for a company to partner with them and include them in the corporate decision making process.  These same constituencies are sick and tired of political, corporate, and other organizations making unilateral decisions for them that are really not in-line with their needs,  wants, etc. The backlash from this unwanted dictatorial management style of some companies can be seen in the Bank of America fee customer rebellion, the customer backlash from Netflix deciding to  split their company without first consulting with their customers and HPs initial decision to exit the computer market.

3) Components of the New CRRM Model:

In order to progress your organization from the old CRM model to the new CRRM  model, a few key essentials must be put in place and are as follows:

A. New CRRM Model that includes the 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights.  This model enables a 360° view of all customer and market insights including customer feedback, preferences, likes, dislikes, social sentiment, competitor activity, etc. This new model takes your insights to an entirely new level whereby you are now enabled to delight customers, stakeholders and stockholders by having insights that are light-years ahead of insights provided by a traditional CRM model.

B. Customer First Culture driven by management that is passionate about their customers including a set of customer first principles and guidelines developed by company leaders

C. Customer Ratings & Feedback Structure that will identify areas where you will collect customer 360° feedback from customer and stakeholder interactions

D. Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process and corresponding infrastructure in order to allow your customers to continually rate how well you are serving them

E. Customer Health Scorecard that provides real-time insights on how well the customers, stakeholders and stockholders perceives you as serving them as well as insights into a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that enables you to continually improve your customer perceptions, satisfaction, brand loyalty, etc.

These components can apply to large enterprises as well as Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs).

The following graphics are all sample components from the list above (A-D) that need to be put in place to enable this new CRRM Model.

New CRRM Model – 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights

 3A) The above chart “New CRRM Model – 360 Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights” demonstrates the new insights model that must be put in place to deliver world-class stakeholder and customer programs.

These enhanced insights will enable you to deliver products and services that delight your customers, stakeholders and stockholders as well as enable you to leapfrog the competition in terms of market share if they continue to rely on their antiquated CRM data and analytics insights only model. 

For Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs), some of the insights do not apply, but the following charts (3B-3E) most certainly apply and can be tracked via simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

CRRM Customer First Policies & Organizational Principles

3B) The above chart “CRRM Organizational Guiding Principles” demonstrates the principles that must be in-place to be customer first culture. This culture is driven by management that is passionate about their customers and governs the company around a set of customer first policies.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure

3C) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure” illustrates a sample structure (will vary for each type of business) whereby customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Enterprise CRRM Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process

3D) The above chart “CRRM Customer Ratings & Feedback Cultivation Process” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization

3E) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be visually represented in a scorecard. 

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Metrics

3E-2) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be rolled up into an analytical scorecard that provides insights into customer trends,  customer feedback, customer issues, core customer strengths and weaknesses, etc. 

This scorecard can also be used to manage a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that continually drives improvements to customer perceptions, ratings, satisfaction, etc. 

Sample Scorecard for “Shopping Experience”

The above depicts how analytics and metrics would be maintained for a business who had a retail or wholesale shopping function.

Sample Shopping Experience Scorecard – #2

Robust Scorecard Analytics and Metrics should support Customer Trend Identification and Root Cause Analysis for Customer Issues.

Sample Branding & Public Relations Scorecard

Sample Public Relations Scorecard Above gives you insights into how well your company and brands are perceived by customers, stakeholders, stockholders, etc.

Sample Customer Service Scorecard

Sample Customer Scorecard Above from Customer Service tells how well you are serving your customers.

Sample Marketing Scorecard

Sample Marketing Scorecard Above Gives you insights into how well your Marketing Efforts are resonating with your customers.

Sample Product Management Scorecard

The Sample Product Management Scorecard above gives you insights into how well perceived your products and services are with customers and prospects.

4) Company & Customer Benefits of Adopting the CRRM Model:

By treating customers as business partners (vs. commodities) and including them in the corporate decision making process, as well as allowing them to rate how well you are serving them from an array of customer facing areas, companies can reap huge rewards including the following:

1. Better insights into the types of products and services customers want & need

2. Fiercely loyal customers who feel part of the corporate team

3. Customers who are most likely to spend more, be retained longer and purchase at premium prices with higher profit margins

4. Customers who are very likely to be brand advocates and refer others to your company, brands, and services.

5. Customers who feel connected to the company and empowered to improve company operations

The following are actual customer comments from those who have participated in a customer feedback program to help shape products & services:

“I feel like xyz company cares about me since they ask my opinion”

“Finally a company that listens to us”

“It is so refreshing to have a company ask you your opinions on products and services vs. ramming something down our throats that we don’t like”

“Wow – this is fun. I enjoy providing my opinion”

“As silly as this might sound, xyz company is the only company that ever asked me what I wanted”

“In my opinion, xyz company is much more progressive than their competitors by seeking consumer opinions, what matters to them, etc.

 5) Conclusion:

More dynamic companies like Goodle, Zynga, Amazon, etc. are inviting customers to become part of the corporate decision making process and empowering them to provide feedback, insights and rate company operations in order to drive continous customer improvements. Companies who adopt this new CRRM model whereby company management is democratized by including stakeholders and customers into the decision making process will reap the rewards of ever higher customer acquisition, retention and spend – leading to ever higher profits and share price.

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with a more effective Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model

1)               Introduction

  1. Do you have a robust CRM program in-place, but you feel you are still missing the mark in terms of delivering what your customers really want & need?
  2. Is your organization at risk of making market decisions that can cause a backlash and mass defection by your customers like the Bank of America $5 fee decision or the Netflix business split decision?
  3. Do you have volumes of consumer data and analytics, but sales are declining or flat and customers are churning at an increasing rate?
  4. Do you feel you could improve the quantity and quality of your customer insights including ascertaining critical consumer needs, preferences, likes/dislikes, interests, preferred communication channel for you to contact them, preferred timing and frequency for you to communicate with them, etc?

If you can say “Yes” to any of these questions, the rest of this post is a MUST READ for you and it is time to consider this more effective CRRM Model to replace your outdated CRM Model.

2)               CRM vs. CRRM Model Overview

The following diagram depicts the major differences between the old CRM Model and the new CRRM Model including the problems associated with the old CRM model and benefits of the newer CRRM model.

Old CRM Model vs. Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM)

Old CRM Model (left above):

  1. Relies on historical data and analytics to determine what customers need, want, etc. by the analysis of sales history, types of products purchased, categories of products purchased, views on websites, stores visited, etc.
  2. Customer activity information is a proxy to what customers really want and need. Example, you will seldom learn that a customer hates an in-store or web experience through this proxy for what they are wanting, feeling, needing, disliking, etc.
  3. Companies are unlikely to gain insights into the impact that any future company decisions will have on customer loyalty, retention, acquisition.

New CRRM Model (right above):

  1. Takes a more direct approach with customers and utilizes a systemic querying method to ascertain exactly what customer want/need/prefer/etc.
  2. Embraces customer councils, customer forums, customer voting to drive future content, interactions, product/service offerings, etc.
  3. Activity solicits ratings from customers on many aspects (marketing materials, web experience, in-store experience, product usability, quality of customer service, etc.) regarding the health of the overall customer relationship and continually asks “How well are we managing our relationship”

3)               Example of CRM Model Gaps

To illustrate how companies are struggling to really determine the real needs of their customers, I took selected comments from interactions with senior CRM executives from major US Corporations based on consulting engagements, job interviews, speaking to them in passing, etc. The following charts are their actual verbatim comments as well as my read on their CRM gap that prevents them from developing world-class relationships with their customers.

Traditional CRM Programs:

  1. Organizational culture, operations, and go-to-market strategy does not put the customer and real customer insights into the center of CRM operations
  2. Relies on data, analytics, and customer history to drive on-going customer interactions.
  3. Puts the organization at extreme risk of missing the boat from a customer’s perspective – real needs, wants, concerns, preferences, experiences, etc.
  4. Companies that rely on this model are at-risk of customer defections, decreased customer spend/loyalty, etc.

New CRRM Model – with Customers In The Center of Customer Operations

New CRRM Program:

  1. The organizational culture, operations, and go-to-market strategy puts the customer and real customer insights into the center of CRM operations rather than rely on the proxies of what customers want, i.e. data, analytics, and customer history.
  2. The customer becomes the actual judge, ‘rater’ of whether you are delivering quality, value and a good relationship to them.
  3. The customer is put in charge of CRM operations and enables a bi-directional and on-going dialog with the customer whereby they tell you their real needs, wants, concerns, preferences, experiences, etc.
  4. Companies that rely on this model are more likely to develop products, services, offers, communications that delight the customer and whereby they are more loyal, greater brand advocates, and likely to refer your company to their friends as a company who listens, cares and empowers their customers.

6)             Companies That ‘Get ‘CRRM

The following are samples of companies that, in my opinion, get the CRRM model and details how/why each of them get this new go-to-market customer model.

Companies That ‘Get’ CRRM – 1 of 2

Companies That Get CRRM – 2 of 2

Phrases That Describe Companies who ‘Get’ the New CRRM Model

  1. We don’t hide behind data and analytics to drive our customer & CRM operations, but rather we ask our customers what they want.
  2. We are eager to ask our most disgruntled customers how we can improve our relationship with them and to determine who to improve our go-to-market strategy
  3. Before we make any major market-facing decisions, we ask a cross-segment of our customers what they think about each of our proposed decisions and then ask them how to improve upon how these changes are implemented so we ensure a continued delighted customer base.

The bottom line of this post is that, if your company relies less on historical data and analytics to determine what customer want and actually builds methods, processes, and systems to put the customer in charge of rating CRM operations in order to provide you with ongoing and valuable real insights (needs, wants, likes dislikes, preferences, concerns, etc.), the customers will feel more valued and connected with your brands. The benefit of adopting this new CRRM model will be more loyal, empowered and delighted customers who will be brand advocates and brand referrers that will increase shareholder and company value.

As I have now built this new CRRM model for several major US brands, my next blog post will be on ‘how to’ develop this capability at the enterprise level.

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