Tag Archives: customer experience

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customer journey

The Friction of the Customer Journey

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Gaining traction is desirable. Inspire connections, build the brand, and grow revenue and profit. Yet, there may be another force associated with traction, friction. Are you reducing the friction of the customer journey?

Creating a password that is more than nine characters, includes a special symbol, at least one capital, one number, and uses no formal names is friction.

In contrast, securely storing your credit card information for one-click purchases in the future reduces friction and improves traction.

Customer Journey

The customer journey is often created by looking through the lens of the account manager, the content developer, or the artistic contributor. Mostly, they represent traction, no guarantee of a smooth glide.

Taking an airplane flight involves a journey. A ride to the airport, security, baggage check, hurry-up, and then wait. What reduces the friction? Uber, CLEAR, and the Admirals Club.

Security on your handheld device may be valuable, a point of traction. For example, a four-digit pin is nice. Reducing the friction of the journey happens with a fingerprint reader.

Waiting for your boss, the CEO, or the chairperson of the board of directors to ask for engagement may grant you traction. Anticipating requirements in advance and delivering before being asked reduces the friction.

Understanding Friction and Traction

Friction promotes job security for the auditor, the gatekeeper, and the hall monitor. All may be important, but perhaps not to the customer.

Mostly people seek traction. They are searching for ways to create a permanent link, a lasting connection, a vow that’s hard to break.

Traction is security, a sure thing, a requirement to return in the future. Reducing friction creates engagement with less effort required for the customer.

Your customer may tolerate your desire to gain traction. What they’ll appreciate the most is when you reduce the friction of their journey.

-DEG

Originally posted on January 23, 2019, last updated on May 4, 2019.

Reducing the friction of the customer journey is directly connected to your organizational culture. It is why I wrote this book:

Customer service culture

Get it Now on Amazon

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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customer experience mathematics

Customer Experience Mathematics

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People often suggest you’ll find greater understanding when you do the math. Does the budget fit or will the return on investment be enough? Someone may suggest that you should do the math. Will customer experience mathematics work?

In some cases, people are just trying to make a point through rhetoric. In other cases instead of telling someone to do the math, we may suggest, “We have done the math.”

Right Answers

What we really mean is that we know the right answer. We understand both the problem and the solution. So much so that now that it is apparent, it feels silly that we were once on the wrong path.

Doing the math is interesting though because there really is only one correct answer. In a field of infinite answers, the probability of a wrong answer is much more likely.

Many Possibilities

When seeking correct answers for how to do the marketing program, the advertising campaign, or close the sale, doing the math is more difficult. Sure, you can apply some math but there may not be only one single answer.

When you want innovation, a new direction, or to capture a new audience for your product or service doing the math may be a detriment, it closes options.

Although sometimes it becomes clear that we have the wrong answer. It still doesn’t mean that there is only one correct solution.

Customer Experience Mathematics

It seems that when we are trying to make an impact, be innovative, and creative, we have to know the difference between right answers, wrong answers, and the possibilities in between.

If you are planning to deliver the absolute best, customer experience mathematics may not matter so much.

The objective should be to avoid the wrong answers, but finding the right one may not happen by doing the math.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Employees that care

Employees That Care Change The Customer Experience

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Rules, policies, and procedures are often in place to ensure the customer experience is delivered consistent with the brand promise. Have you considered that having employees that care is really what changes the customer experience?

Organizations can set policy and have rules, but often the values and beliefs of the employee will be the biggest factor for outcomes. Demonstrating caring starts with the employees believing that the organization they work for values both the employees and customers.

Bounds of Rules and Policies

Employees will make decisions both within the bounds of rules and policies and outside of those parameters too. What they decide will really depend on what they value. Culture, driven by leadership often shapes value perceptions.

A gallon of milk has a drip, but put it on the shelf anyway. I hope that someone grabs it soon.

There is an empty coach seat on the unfilled airplane but the three biggest people on the plane are required to sit in the same row.

The roofer drops some nails in your yard, but oh well, perhaps no one will notice.

At the automobile repair shop, the mechanic steps in grease, gets it on your floor mats, but ignores what he sees because it isn’t his problem.

Food for table four sits and grows cold since the waiter is more preoccupied with his friends seated at table eight.

Chances are great that all of these circumstances, as well as thousands of others are against the rules. They break the fundamental policies, procedures, and what the organization leadership claims as the brand promise.

Caring Starts Inside

Caring starts on the inside. It starts with the organization philosophy that is carried out every day. Not the rule in written in the manual, the one that the employee feels based on the cultural environment.

The dairy department manager is measured in part by loss due to spoilage or out of date merchandise.

Airline personnel aren’t sure that comfort is one of their problems. Security is what really matters. Stay in your ticketed seat. Passengers should be more weight conscious.

The boss wants the roofer on the next job, they already lost a day because of rain. Picking up a few nails is a waste of time.

Grease, what grease? I work in grease every day and I can’t afford that car. Deal with it, it didn’t come from my boot.

Why do people eat burgers and fries anyway? They should be vegans. Who cares if their food sits. Reminiscing about high school is much more fun.

Employees That Care

Chances are great that rules, policies, and procedures won’t matter that much. It is the integrity and ethics of the employees that will make the difference. They’ll decide. They likely make those decisions hundreds of times per day.

However, they aren’t the only ones to blame. Guiding their choices are the behaviors of the leadership agenda.

Time is money and waste is problematic are two leadership punishments that employees divert to the customer. They’ve learned it from the inside and they’re sharing it on the outside.

Do you want to change the customer experience? Employees that care are important. Leadership measurement should consider metrics of caring. Caring is never cheap, but not caring is the most expensive of all.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer experience connections

Customer Experience Connections and Moments

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There are many labels for our current business climate. There is the connection economy, the digital economy, and my personal favorite is a label of, service economy. Regardless of the label, real customer experience connections and moments are more important now than ever.

When we think of connection, we often think of social media experiences. Connecting, friending, and following all wrap meaning around the social media experience. Those are really just faux connections though. Yes, they have some importance, but they aren’t the same as making a real connection.

Recently I was returning home after spending more than seven hours driving on the road. It was dark, cold, and I was hungry.

One of my favorite fixes for this is a carryout pizza. Just minutes away, I made the call to the pizza shop and arrived with precise timing.

Rush of Frustration

As I stepped out of my car, a pizza delivery person rushed around me from the side. He was talking to himself, mumbling something about kid’s behavior and their parents, and discipline. He must have just had a difficult delivery.

Although my day was long and hectic, I was tired, and I was hungry, I somehow felt this was going to be an interesting moment.

He rushed into the pizza shop, threw down his pizza bags, shed a coat, and stepped behind the cash register. I stood opposite him, waiting patiently.

He attempted to login and couldn’t get the code right, he was breathing heavy, and was obviously frustrated.

After a moment or two, he put both his hands out in front of him, palms down, and quickly swooshed his arms to both sides in a movement signifying calmness. He took a deep breath, looked up at me and said, “How are you doing sir?”

I said, “I’m OK, it’s OK.”

He said, “It’s been a crazy night, a crazy, crazy night.”

I said with a patient smile, “It’s all just moments. Just moments, it will be alright.”

His eyes shifted to the side in a moment of thought, then his shoulders dropped, he relaxed, he smiled, and we were, connected.

Customer Experience Connections

Sometimes when we say customer experience what we really mean is forming a connection. It is isn’t a like on Facebook, it isn’t a new follower on Twitter, and our network hasn’t just expanded on LinkedIn.

All of those things may cause a rush of dopamine in a technology-connected society. The purchase of a lottery ticket may do that too. The reality of outcomes sometimes makes us crave more.

A true connection is something different, a little more intense, and lasting.

Sometimes one of the best things to improve the customer experience is generosity. It doesn’t matter how your day is going, it matters more when you hold a door for someone, smile first, or make the moment more human.

These connections are valuable. More importantly, they are often repeated and shared.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Customer Service Shortcuts

Customer Service Shortcuts and Culture

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It is easy to disregard customer service. Perhaps in many organizations it is quickly brushed over because there is no rocket science and, after all, it takes a lot of energy to do it right. Do you have a culture of customer service shortcuts?

How do you know you have good customer service? How are you measuring the success of your customer service culture?

Said or Done?

Many organizational leaders tell me that they survey their customers. Some suggest that management is carefully watching and monitoring both processes and outcomes. Others claim to be doing it digitally. They monitor social media, review sales data, and analyze lifetime value.

In many ways, all of those produce some form of evidence. Evidence is valuable and meaningful, but it may not be the entire story. Things are likely missing, valuable things that are overlooked, underestimated, or disregarded.

What is the culture of the organization? What are the habits, the traditions, and the values? I’m not just talking about what is said in the boardroom, at the quarterly meeting, or on a digital document otherwise known as the employee handbook.

What is the execution or organizational habits? What are the customer service shortcuts? None of it may be rocket science.

Shortcut Investment or Divestment

Many businesses invest in shortcuts. It is the auto-attendant telephone system, the ring the buzzer for help, or the website contact page. They invest in touch point reduction. It is the listen carefully because our menu options have changed, or it must have went into my spam folder.

Customers don’t hear reasons, they hear excuses. What they feel, is a lack of caring. What your execution is demonstrating, is a shortcut. Every action, or a lack of, has a cost. What can your organization afford?

Customer Service Shortcuts

It isn’t about well-crafted words on a document, it isn’t the glamorous pitch from the C Suite, or it is not necessarily about what is contained in the managers’ report.

It might be a part of all of those, but the biggest part of your culture is execution, the things that become values, traditions, and the brand.

There is value to what you say, but what will be remembered the most is what you do and how your customers feel.

Is it time to consider how you’re coming up short?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service value

Difficulties Are Customer Service Value

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Habits are the basis for most of our work. Individually or organizationally, we tend to be creatures of habit. If we want to improve, we know the story of replacing bad habits with good ones. Do the challenges we face really create customer service value?

The path of least resistance may be the easiest one to follow. It may also be the most crowded.

Easy or Difficult?

Most people probably go for the low hanging fruit. It is the easiest to pick, uses less energy, and it may produce more than what we need or can consume. Organizations love low hanging fruit, and will pick it all day. They often end up in the path of the many.

It is hard to sell in a crowded market. Unique feels risky and is harder work, but it is probably where there is the most value.

When your business does more than what is average, more than where the crowd goes, and pursues beyond the low hanging fruit it may become unique.

In a service-based economy, where do you want to be positioned? It seems that standing out in a crowd may make the most sense.

Customer Service Value

The customer experience you create likely won’t provide great value when it is just like all the rest. Having exceptional levels of service will not be the path of least resistance, it is not picking only the low hanging fruit. Standing out will take resources, time, and will be difficult to maintain.

When we consider what is the most valuable, it is probably connected to what is scarce, not abundant. Being average is easy. It is plentiful and abundant.

Habits form the basis for our work. They are directly connected to the culture. If you want a culture that thrives in a service economy, you are going to have to be unique.

When you do the difficult work, you’ll stand out from the crowd. You may also be recognized as highly valuable, not because you are one of many, but because you are scarce.

What do customers see in a service economy? They often see little need for loyalty in a market where there is abundance.

Competing on price is a model. So is providing the most value.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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organizational culture strategic

Is Your Organizational Culture Strategic?

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One thing that I find most businesses believe is that they are very unique. Certainly, they have unique characteristics, and certainly, their culture has some unique features. Are they strategic, groundbreakers, movers and shakers? Is your organizational culture strategic?

What do many organizations do to develop their culture? They replicate, borrow, copy, or steal. They do this with ideas that they believe hold the power to create their future success. It is not uncommon. It may be part of learning and growing. Taking someone’s idea of a cart and a wheel, throw a motor in it, and it’s a car.

Similar but Different?

What your organization does may be a take-off, branch off, or knock off of a previous idea. What do most flat screen TV’s look like? They look pretty much the same. Most cars have four wheels, and motorcycles two. Yet, they aren’t the same.

Organizational strategy and culture has everything to do with your success. It is applicable to your marketing, your brand, and your products or service. Most organizations fall into one of several categories.

The first category represents the organization that decides they want to conquer the competition. So they challenge competitors head-on. They provide similar but (yet they believe) different products and services. In addition to keeping existing customers, they also want people who use a competitor to switch.

Another somewhat different category is for those who to take a defensive posture. You focus mostly on well-established relationships. You work hard to build business with your customers, not necessarily for them.

There is a difference between building with customers and building for the customer. When building with your customer, you upgrade, enhance, and improve what is already working, and you do it together. You defend your business against the competition.

There is still another path though and that is the path of creating what is next. Organizations stick their neck out, they take risk and they try something new or different. They are not just doing things differently. They are actually doing different things.

Organizational Culture Strategic?

We might consider products like the Keurig coffee maker, digital photography as opposed to film, or even the 2007 launch of the iPhone. In each of these cases, they took a risk to do something different. They transformed original products or results by being very different. They became attractive. People switched.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that any organization can make is believing that they are unique but yet they follow what everyone else in their industry does. Your hardest challenge may be separating yourself from what anyone, can get anywhere, at any time.

In many industries, this is exactly why the customer experience is critically important and it develops from your organizational culture.

Is the development of your organizational culture strategic, or are you trying your hardest just to compete?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service pain points Appreciative Strategies

What Are Your Customer Service Pain Points?

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Everybody quickly recognizes that customer service should be a happy experience, or at a stretch minimizing a not so great experience to be better. When was the last time you really considered customer service pain points?

There is often chatter about touch points, but pain points perhaps not so much. One of my favorite provocative questions is, “What are you doing that punishes your customers?” Sometimes people feel shocked about that question, but it is an important one.

Customer Service Pain Points

Like touch points, pain points might be assessed everywhere. Here are a few examples:

  • What or how convenient is parking
  • Where are the restrooms
  • What should people do while they wait
  • How long do they wait
  • Are there stairs, or an elevator
  • How many clicks to make a purchase
  • How available is a human
  • How responsive to email
  • How is the experience too fast, or too slow
  • Is the product intuitive? For whom?

Certainly, this list could get long quickly. Most businesses follow an established pattern. Waiting rooms get chairs, sometimes a television or closed circuit advertising, perhaps fresh water or a coffee pot. The bus should arrive on time. Pizza delivery should be hot, and shipping for my on-line purchase fast.

Assessment and Brainstorming

What does your business do? How do you assess pain points? Have you done it lately or are you merely copying what the shop across the street is doing?

Have you considered internal customer service? How responsive are you to email? Are you available or often too busy? Are projects completed on time? Does everyone do their part? Are people waiting for other people? What do they do while they wait?

How should internal service be measured or evaluated? Compared with what?

Just Enough or More?

Many businesses and organizations are on cruise control. They are doing what they need to do to get by. Spending just enough on advertising may not help growth. Shipping just fast enough to avoid complaints won’t set you apart. Providing services or comfort comparable to the competition won’t make you memorable.

When you do everything just as good as the next person, internal or external, the best you can hope for is to be number two. Cruise control may be similar to coasting. We all know you only coast one way—downhill.

Reducing or eliminating customer service pain points will make your touch points more memorable. What is the customer’s pain?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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future customer service expectations

Exceed Future Customer Service Expectations

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Retail stores (and online) gear up for back to school. They increase hiring and stock more inventory for cyclical or holiday seasons. They expect more to happen, more sales, more customers, and more revenue. It may represent future customer service expectations.

Most of us try to prepare. We prepare for the surge. Rush hour traffic, the dinner hour at our favorite restaurant, and even the best timing for the grocery store.

Customers and businesses alike prepare. They prepare for the most, more, and when they expect many. Are you prepared for the future expectations of your customers? What experience are they anticipating? What is your perception?

Technology and Speed

Technology is pushing everything to be faster. A telephone call or message once had to wait until we got to the next destination. Conversations or updates waited until after school, after work, until the evening or perhaps even waited until the upcoming weekend.

Many people carry a portable computer in the form of a smart phone in their pocket or purse. They get anxious when it isn’t working fast enough or the service is questionable.

When we have a question we don’t have to wait until the store opens tomorrow or the expert calls us back when he or she can fit us in. We don’t need a paper (hardcopy) dictionary, a thesaurus, or encyclopedia.

We don’t need our friend the professional mechanic to show us how to change our oil or fix the kitchen sink. All that we need is our phone, appropriate service and the understanding of how to seek a digital answer. Or is there something more?

Things aren’t just changing, they have changed. Expectations are increasing faster and many businesses can’t keep up.

Old School and Experts

Of course, there is always the desire for what once was such as the camping trip, the no phone zone, and an opportunity to unwind.

If you can raise the effort for back to school, the holiday season, and to achieve the best timing, do you really understand the future expectations of your customer? If the answers are only a smartphone away how does the expert become valued?

Future Customer Service Expectations

Expectations are created and opportunities exist in your future and for the future of your business.

Expectations create perception and perception is reality. With a little effort, you might be able to predict the future more than what you realize.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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front sided customer service

When Front Sided Customer Service Creates Back Sided Experiences

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Service after the sale, is that the selling point? Is a culture of service after the sale the right culture? Do you have front sided customer service or back sided? Is your customer service scale balanced?

“This should work but if it doesn’t we have an excellent support department, or you can return it.”

“This has a lifetime warranty. If it breaks just bring it back.”

One of my favorites:

“Would you like to purchase the extended warranty?”

Sometimes you will hear complaints about customer service on the front side. Often though, the mindset is to prove your worth before the sale, to close the sale. Can your culture have too much focus on the front side?

Back Sided Experiences

Quickly some may argue that you can never have too much focus on either side. On the surface that seems appropriate but is there an underlying principle, an ethical challenge, and self-fulfilled prophecy looming?

Lifetime warranties once implied that it would never break. Today, it may be more about statistics. Sell enough product with just enough quality to just enough (or more) consumers that mathematically we can cover any failures.

Is that front sided customer service or a back sided focus? The better question may be, “Is it a customer focus?”

Customer Focused

Do you give service that is just enough? Is it just enough to cover any problems or just enough to close the sale?

When is the promise so good that it is never tested?

Should the cost of the extended warranty be balanced in the price of the product? What is the failure rate?

Does anyone ever ask why he or she needs the extended warranty?

How does an extended warranty business, stay in business?

Does the opportunity to buy the extended warranty lower the quality delivered?

When was the last time a major automobile insurance carrier went bankrupt?

Do casinos payout more than they bring in?

Front Sided Customer Service

Many consumers may decide that they don’t care about these questions. It might be the very reason the expectations are lowered, the quality becomes just enough, and the best customer service happens before the sale.

For the consumer: Be very careful about the offer on the front side, it may be a signal for the rest of your customer experience.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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